(Adds comments from Kinross CEO)
By Euan Rocha and Susan Taylor
TORONTO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp said on Thursday it will sell its stake in four non-core assets in Nevada for $720 million, putting the Canadian mining firmly on track to meet its 2015 debt-reduction target amid a multi-year slump in gold prices.
The world’s largest gold producer will sell its 50 percent interest in the Round Mountain mine and 100 percent of the Bald Mountain mine to Kinross Gold for $610 million in cash. The two miners also agreed to form an exploration joint venture for a large land package at Bald Mountain.
Separately, Toronto-based Barrick will sell its 70 percent stake in the Spring Valley project and 100 percent of the Ruby Hill mine to subsidiaries of Waterton, a mining-focused private equity firm, for $110 million in cash.
“The sale of these assets is consistent with our strategy to create long-term value for our shareholders by strengthening the balance sheet and further focusing our portfolio on core mines,” Barrick President Kelvin Dushnisky said in a statement.
Barrick, which pledged to cut $3 billion from its $13.1 billion in debt this year, said it has raised $3.2 billion this year through asset sales, including the deals announced on Thursday, joint ventures and partnerships.
Although bullion slumped to near six-year lows on Thursday, Barrick shares rose 2 percent, as investors cheered the sale price on assets that some analysts had initially pegged at $300 million to $450 million.
Kinross shares fell 3.3 percent.
Barrick put a parcel of six assets up for sale in August and is still left with its Golden Sunlight mine in Montana and Hilltop asset in Nevada, which are considered less attractive by some in the mining industry.
Barrick said it will continue considering options to realize value from those assets, which will remain part of its portfolio for now.
Two sources familiar with the matter last week told Reuters that Kinross was aggressively bidding for the Round Mountain and Bald Mountain assets, to boost its exposure in safer mining jurisdictions.
“It’s very rare where you can buy a producing gold mine with this kind of upside in Nevada,” Kinross CEO Paul Rollinson said in an interview. The price reflects potential that the market may not fully appreciate, he said, because the operations were relatively small at Barrick, making them less scrutinized.
Kinross, which already owned 50 percent of Round Mountain, also has assets in what some see as riskier parts of the world for mining, such as Russia, Mauritania and Brazil. (Editing by W Simon, Bernadette Baum and Paul Simao)