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Going for Gold

The History of Newmont Mining Corporation

Written by Jack H. Morris

Publication Year: 2010

A Fortune 500 company as a pioneer of current gold-mining technology
Jack H. Morris details how Newmont Mining revolutionized the gold mining industry and remains today the second largest gold miner in the world. He asserts that Newmont is the link between early gold mining and today’s technology-driven industry. We learn how the company’s founder and several early leaders grew up in gold camps and how, in 1917, the company helped finance South Africa’s largest gold company and later owned famous gold mines in California and Colorado. In the 1960s the company developed the process to capture “invisible gold” from small distributions of the metal in large quantities of rock, thereby opening up the rich gold field at Carlin, Nevada.
Modern gold mining has all the excitement and historic significance of the metal’s colorful past. Instead of panning for ready nuggets, today’s corporate miners must face heavy odds by extracting value from ores containing as little as one-hundredth of an ounce per ton. In often-remote locations, where the capital cost of a new mine can top $2 billion, 250-ton trucks crawl from half mile deep pits and ascend, beetle-like, loaded with ore for extraction of the minute quantities of gold locked inside.
Morris had unique access to company records and the cooperation of more than 80 executives and employees of the firm, but the company exercised no control over content. The author tells a story of discovery and scientific breakthrough; strong-willed, flamboyant leaders like founder Boyce Thompson; corporate raiders such as T. Boone Pickens and Jimmy Goldsmith; shakedowns by the Indonesian government and monumental battles with the French over the richest mine in Peru; and learning to operate in the present environmental regulatory climate. This is a fascinating story of the metal that has ignited passions for centuries and now sells for nearly $1,000 an ounce.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-ixx

A thimbleful of gold for $1,023! Now that’s a precious metal! Gold reached that peak on March 17, 2008, having two months earlier surpassed the previous record of $850 an ounce set in January 1980.1 The price had doubled in just four years as growing demand and declining output met amid uncertain economic and political times. It...

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1. Eureka

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pp. 1-15

America is told in terms of mass hysteria—the California gold rush of 1848 and 1849 that brought an estimated 90,000 fortune seekers to San Francisco and Sacramento; the Klondike Stampede of 1898 and 1899 that saw thousands more trek by mule train or dogsled into the frozen mountains of the Yukon and Alaska; and the many gold rushes in the years between into ...

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2. Colonel

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pp. 16-29

When Newmont Mining Corporation issued its first annual report for 1925, the company looked more like a mutual fund than a mining house. It had no operations but held investments valued at $20 million in six mining and oil companies. That portfolio of assets generated $2.5 million in dividends and interest during...

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3. Veins

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pp. 30-44

The Roaring Twenties were halcyon years for Newmont Mining Corporation as W. B. Thompson sorted out his investments between his private holdings and those of his publicly held companies and as his newly assembled team picked up the reins of management. In just four years since becoming a publicly traded company, net profits rose nearly sixfold...

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4. Africa

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pp. 45-66

All that glisters in South Africa is not gold. Diamonds came first with the discovery in 1866, by children playing with a 21-carat stone, of the tremendously rich diamond pipes at Kimberley. Within five years, 50,000 men were living in squalor and digging like prairie dogs to extract the precious stones from the rocky soil. Those squeezed out by chaos and competition packed their gear and...

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5. Plato

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pp. 67-90

Asked to name the most influential chief executive at the end of the twentieth century, one might give top honors to Jack Welch, the successful and self-promoting CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001. But if asked to turn back the pages of history by a few years, Plato Malozemoff would surely be among the top contenders. And if the selection were limited to mining...

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6. Magma

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pp. 91-107

Newmont Mining celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1971. That was the year that astronauts rode a rover on the moon and the microprocessor was invented. It was also the year that gold was set free from government price controls. In August, President Richard Nixon, faced with a rising trade deficit and declining dollar, “closed the...

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7. Desert Gold

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pp. 108-119

The first anyone back east heard of the caper that became known as the “Great Carlin Gold Robbery” was when Robert Macdonald received a phone call in February 1974 from Jay McBeth, the resident manager of Newmont’s fledging Nevada gold mine. “Bob, I want you to send me two fire assayers,” McBeth pleaded....

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8. Black Gold

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pp. 120-129

Seeing value and doggedly pursuing a controlling interest in Peabody Coal was considered by many to be Plato Malozemoff’s finest achievement. It was also his most audacious. Peabody, the nation’s largest coal company, had sales in the mid-1970s of $800 million a year, compared with $550 million...

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9. The End of an Era

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pp. 130-146

For decades, employees of Newmont Mining were convinced they were among the very privileged of their professions. It was a “great company, comprised of tremendous people,” most of whom were specialists in their fields, says former president Jack Thompson.1 “The company was run by...

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10. Shareholder Value

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pp. 147-164

Like many great actors who remain too long on center stage, Plato Malozemoff had drawn the last applause from his company’s performance. “Newmont was sort of a ragtag collection of assets at the time I appeared on the scene,”1 says Gordon Parker, who, during his first month as chairman, wrote down the value of...

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11. Going Crazy

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pp. 165-178

The battle with Boone Pickens and subsequent market crash left Newmont Mining in a desperate financial position. At year-end 1987, the company had a negative net worth of nearly $500 million, was saddled with a record $1.9 billion in debt, and had committed $450 million...

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12. Grief

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pp. 179-189

Returning to their offices on the thirty-sixth floor of the Pan Am (now Met Life) Building after the 1988 Labor Day holiday, Newmont employees received shocking news—the company was moving its corporate headquarters to Denver, Colorado. New York had been Newmont’s home since its founding by William Boyce Thompson...

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13. Jimmy

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pp. 190-205

Driven by necessity, but aided by providence, Newmont Mining entered the 1990s as an entirely new company, one focused for the first time on a single commodity—gold—that was riding the crest of consumer demand and investor sentiment....

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14. New Horizons

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pp. 206-232

With the rapid acceleration in gold mining in the 1980s and early 1990s, anti-mining activists found plenty to rail against. In Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, the Summitville mine leaked cyanide, acid, and heavy metals into the Alamosa River, while in Montana a Canadian company sought to mine on private property just outside...

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15. Culture Shock

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pp. 233-246

As Ronald C. Cambre took the helm as Newmont’s sixth CEO on November 1, 1993, the company was on the cusp of a new era of growth. Production at Yanacocha would begin the next day. Two weeks later, ground was broken on the Zarafshan-Newmont joint venture in Uzbekistan, and a feasibility study was under way...

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16. Vision

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pp. 247-266

Some men are satisfied with the status quo. Others see growth as essential to life. As CEO, Ronald Cambre stood firmly in the latter camp. For him, Newmont’s future lay not at Carlin, which he felt was at a plateau without an acquisition, but in the international arena. In 1996, Newmont celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary as...

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17. Faith, Hope, and Hedging

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pp. 267-281

In 1997 CEO Ron Cambre started whistling past the graveyard. “It is the nature of those of us in this business to remain bullish on the gold price,”1 he told shareholders in his annual report letter published that March. His assertion followed a drop in the gold price to $350 from $415 an ounce during the previous twelve months...

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18. Pinnacle

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pp. 282-302

Newmont shareholders began to see a little sunlight in 2001 as the company’s stock price rose 12 percent against a 13 percent drop in the overall market as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The next year was considerably better as the stock jumped...

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19. A Good Neighbor

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pp. 303-331

The Wall Street Journal recently asked: “What obligations do companies have to be socially responsible?” Chief executives, the article said, “know their primary mission is to make profits, but they also feel pressured to demonstrate that their businesses have a social conscience.”1

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20. Sustaining Success

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pp. 332-346

As the gold market gained strength, passing a ten-year high in 2003, surging above $500 an ounce in 2005 and continuing to climb, Newmont’s strategy looked prescient. “We now have a new paradigm,” boasted Randy Eppler, who had just retired as the company’s vice president of corporate development.1 “After 9/11 and with...

Appendix: Officers and Directors

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pp. 347-350


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pp. 351-366


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pp. 367-375


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pp. 377-395

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384432
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817316778

Page Count: 395
Publication Year: 2010