TORONTO/VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Goldcorp (G.TO), the world's biggest gold producer by market value, will increasingly have to look for large gold deposits outside the Americas as these are scarcer than "hen teeth," the miner's incoming chief executive said on Monday.
David Garofalo, who will become CEO after Goldcorp's annual meeting in April, said countries in Europe and Africa could possibly meet the miner's criteria, which include low political risk and the existence of a mining code.
Until now, Goldcorp's operations have been exclusively in the Americas, where it has invested in countries with relatively low political risks, including Canada and Mexico. But the need to replace the nearly 4 million ounces of gold it mines a year, and a growing shortage of big deposits, will force it to look further afield.
"There are a number of countries in Africa and Europe that obviously would fit from a political risk perspective," Garofalo said in an interview. "But there are no obvious acquisition opportunities in these jurisdictions currently."
Garofalo, who will replace CEO Chuck Jeannes when he retires, joined Vancouver-based Goldcorp on Jan. 1. He was most recently CEO of Canadian base metals miner HudBay Minerals (HBM.TO).
Garofalo declined to name specific regions or countries in Africa and Europe that Goldcorp might be interested in. He also declined to comment on whether the company might be interested in the Ghanaian gold assets belonging to rival Newmont Mining Corp (NEM.N), which Goldcorp reportedly looked at in 2014.
Goldcorp will remain focused on gold acquisitions, though it is not averse to polymetallic deposits which have gold as the chief metal, he said.
His main focus at Goldcorp will be to replace and expand the miner's gold reserve base, Garofalo said, noting his preference for early stage mining projects as operating assets remain costly.
"It continues to surprise me what these assets are trading off," he said, describing recent industry base metals and gold asset sales prices as "rich."
Garofalo said he will continue the strategy put in place by Jeannes of building up the company, and selling non-core assets.
Gold prices are likely to recover in the medium term partly on the back of a decline in mined production, Garofalo said. But the short term outlook is "a bit bumpier."
"We will likely see $1,000 gold before we see $1,500," he said.
Bullion, which has slumped 43 percent in the past four years, was last bid at $1,095 an ounce late Monday.
Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Chang