Newmont Mining CEO says Goldcorp deal is designed to 'survive' a drop in gold price

  • Newmont Mining is not buying Goldcorp because it believes gold prices will rise, CEO Gary Goldberg says.
  • Goldberg sees an opportunity to optimize Goldcorp's assets during a period of relatively low gold prices and consolidation.

Newmont Mining's $10 billion purchase of Goldcorp does not mean the metals miner is making a bullish call on gold, according to CEO Gary Goldberg.

Instead, the global gold and copper miner is seeking to optimize Goldcorp's assets during a period when the cost of the yellow metal has flatlined and the industry is undergoing significant consolidation.

"We're designing our business to survive through the cycles in prices. We're not predicting an up or down," Goldberg told CNBC.

"As we go through our longer-term plans, we use a $1,200 gold price and we're really focused on returns and making sure that any project, any business going forward, is delivering at least a 15 percent rate of return."

After peaking above $1,800 per ounce in 2011, gold prices have been stuck in a range between about $1,000 and $1,350 for the last few years. Gold was trading around $1,294 on Wednesday.

Asked how confident he is that gold prices will hold around $1,200, Goldberg said the company tests strategies against a range of price levels.

"We do test our plans at an $800 price, $900, and then up to $1,200," he said. "At this stage, you look at past history and look at where we're at, I think we sit in a solid position in terms of cost of production to be able to compete through cycles."

Newmont's purchase of Goldcorp is the second major merger in the space in the last few months. Barrick Gold and Randgold announced their combination in September and closed the deal earlier this month.

Shares of Newmont closed up 1.7 percent on Wednesday, but have fallen 9.5 percent since the deal was announced Monday.

Goldberg said the company is still in the process of making sure investors understand the benefits of the acquisition.

"This is going to be the largest reserve base that anyone has in the industry," he said. "We're going to have 18 operations and we're going to do all the things that we've done over the past five or six years that has put Newmont in a strong position to make sure we optimize those assets, bring projects on when they make sense — not just because we're trying to grow production by any means — but do it when it brings on the best value."