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Goldcorp not ruling out deals, big capital projects

Goldcorps President & CEO Chuck Jeannes speaks during Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit in Toronto, Ontario, March 27, 2012. REUTERS/Hy
Goldcorps President & CEO Chuck Jeannes speaks during Reuters Global Mining and Steel Summit in Toronto, Ontario, March 27, 2012. REUTERS/Hy

By Allison Martell

DENVER (Reuters) - Goldcorp Inc is not ruling out new takeovers and might even take a look at the big, capital-intensive gold-mining projects most likely to alarm investors, Chief Executive Chuck Jeannes told Reuters on Monday, outlining a stance that puts the company at odds with many of its competitors.

A drop in precious metal prices and a spike in costs is weighing on cash flow at Goldcorp, as with other gold producers, but the company has largely avoided the excesses of the last round of mining deals, maintaining a relatively strong balance sheet.

"Growth isn't a dirty word - a lot of the peer companies are acting like it is," Jeannes said. He said Goldcorp's primary focus is on building three existing projects that will boost gold production over the next five years, but added that the company is also looking for new opportunities.

"Perhaps if our peers are not looking at things, that gives us a better opportunity," he said.

Barrick Gold Corp , the world's biggest gold producer, has said unequivocally that given the tough market, it has no plans to build new mines.

Some investors are still angry about deals Barrick closed during the commodities boom, especially its C$7.3 billion ($7.1 billion) takeover of Africa-focused copper miner Equinox in 2011, as well as the big cost increases at its Pascua-Lama project on the border between Chile and Argentina.

Goldcorp has had some operational problems at its Peñasquito mine in Mexico, and in 2012 permitting issues forced it to suspend its El Morro project in Chile. But the Vancouver-based company has surpassed Barrick's market capitalization, even though it produces less gold.

Jeannes acknowledged that investors are wary of projects with big capital requirements, but he said Goldcorp is looking for quality assets that offer good returns, and it considers cost, size, mine life and location in its assessments.

"If all that happens, and it's still a big capital number, but we're confident in all the other criteria, then that's not a factor that's going to stop us from going forward," he said.

Jeannes spoke on the sidelines of the Denver Gold Forum, a major industry conference in Colorado.

($1=$1.03 Canadian)

(Editing by Gary Hill; and Peter Galloway)

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