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article in australian newspaper

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    Slim pickings for hungry Croesus
    April 02, 2003

    AUSTRALIA'S third biggest locally controlled gold producer, Croesus Mining NL, is on the prowl for further acquisitions, but attractive targets appear to be few and far between.

    "We have a list of things that we like but they are not necessarily for sale," chief executive Mike Ivey said yesterday.

    The Kalgoorlie miner's $80 million acquisition of WMC subsidiary Central Norseman Gold in January 2000 established the company as a 280,000 ounce a year producer.

    With the deal bedded down, Croesus emerged in the first half of 2002-03 debt-free and at December 31 had $31 million cash.

    Mr Ivey said the company was searching for growth opportunities to add to its three operations, Norseman, Davyhurst and Binduli, all of which are 200km from Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

    "Yes we are looking," he said. "I'm keen to add another sensible asset but the pool of choice is very slim - even the majors seem to be hanging on to stuff.

    "We're knocking on doors but we are not getting a lot of joy ... there are a couple of things coming up but it has to be the right asset."

    Mr Ivey said Croesus's preference was to acquire something "logical and sensible" in the Kalgoorlie region but that had not stopped it looking for opportunities elsewhere.

    "We are looking Australia-wide at the moment," he said.

    "If we get nothing out of that in the next six months, we will probably look offshore, but it would have to be a pretty sensible and compelling asset to make us step across the water."

    Growing enthusiasm for gold amid higher prices and a more bullish outlook has also pushed the cost of some assets higher.

    "People are certainly saying you have to pay some option value on these assets. Two years ago you didn't have to do that because everyone was bearish."

    Meanwhile, Croesus is expected to announce a reserve upgrade from its Norseman operations by financial year's end.

    Norseman, Australia's longest continually operating mine, has consistently run with reserves of just two to three years. However, an aggressive $1 million a month drilling campaign is aimed at extending the mine life and giving Croesus extra breathing space.

    "We have seven rigs running at the moment, six at Norseman and one at Davyhurst, and there is a bunch of results due shortly," Mr Ivey said.

    The Australian

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