UPDATE 2-Newmont posts $2 bln loss after charge, gold prices drop

Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:59pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon

July 26 (Reuters) - Top U.S. gold miner Newmont Mining Corp on Friday posted a $2 billion second-quarter loss after a sharp drop in bullion prices and an impairment charge related to two Australian mines.

Newmont said the one-time $1.8 billion charge was primarily tied to two of its Australian mines, Boddington and Tanami, where sinking gold and copper prices have lowered the value of property, plant and mine development.

Shares were down 1.3 percent at $29.54 just after midday.

The Colorado-based miner had a loss attributable to common shareholders of $2 billion, or $4.06 per share. That compared to a net profit of $279 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.

Gold miners have announced billions in writedowns over the last two years. Newmont rival Goldcorp Inc posted a $2 billion charge this week related to the lower exploration value at its Penasquito mine in Mexico. And Newcrest Mining Ltd warned last month it may write down asset values by up to $6 billion on gold's decline.

The bullion price has fallen sharply this year, hitting a near 3-year low of about $1,180 an ounce in late June. That has prompted gold producers to slash capital spending, exploration expenses and other costs.

When asked in a conference call with analysts about hedging gold or copper to protect against price drops, Newmont's chief executive Gary Goldberg said the option had been discussed, but was not currently being contemplated.   Continued...