&l;p&g;Australia&s;s gold-mining industry is riding high on a record local gold price with the three local leaders reporting strong profits for the December half-year over the past two days.
Evolution Mining, Northern Star Resources and Newcrest Mining have also seen their share prices pushed higher as the twin effects of a modest rise in the gold price is magnified by a fall in the value of the Australian dollar.
Newcrest, the biggest Australian gold producer, said earlier today that it had lifted its underlying profit in the six months to December 31 by 104% to $168 million ($A237 million) thanks to a 6% increase in gold production and a 13% reduction in costs.
&l;img class=&q;dam-image bloomberg size-large wp-image-42960484&q; src=&q;https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/dam/imageserve/42960484/960×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;638&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; An employee arranges one kilogram gold bars at a gold refinery in Australia. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg.
Northern Star yesterday announced an 11% increase in underlying profit to $63 million ($A89.1 million), while Evolution said its underlying profit fell by $23 million ($A32.5 million) to $65 million with the decline blamed on one-off non-cash items. Evolution expects a profit recovery in the current six months to June 30.
&l;strong&g;Gold M&a;amp;A On The Rise&l;/strong&g;
Interest in Australia&s;s big three gold miners has been rising as a wave of mergers and acquisitions breaks over the global gold sector, starting with the integration of Barrick Gold and Randgold, and spurred by plans for the merger of Newmont and Goldcorp.
Evolution&s;s chief executive, Jake Klein, said when announcing his company&s;s latest result that he was wary of entering the takeover game while the gold price was rising.
For Australian investors, if not those outside the country, the local gold price has developed a magnetic pull, having moved above A$1840 an ounce, easily eclipsing the previous record of A$1724/0z set in 2011.
Currency moves more than the U.S. dollar gold price are the biggest element in the record high Australian gold price with the A-dollar down 11% over the past 12-months from near 80 cents to less than 71 cents.
Newcrest&s;s chief executive, Sandeep Biswas, said his company had increased production by 6% to 1.2 million ounces in the December half, reduced debt and cut costs.
&q;This is a pleasing, strong result reflecting our commitment to safety, operational discipline and cash maximization,&q; Biswas said.
Northern Star chief executive, Bill Beament, described his company&s;s result as solid, driven by a strong performance in Australia and the initial return from the acquisition of the Pogo gold mine in Alaska.
Klein said Evolution&s;s cash flow had been exceptionally strong at more than A$1000/oz.
Newcrest is paying a steady dividend of 7.5 cents a share. Evolution is also paying a steady dividend at 2.5 cents (A3.5 cents), while Northern Star has lifted its half-year dividend by 33% to 4.2 cents (A6 cents).
Over the past six months all three gold miners have seen their share prices rise, Evolution and Northern Star are both up 27% and Newcrest has risen by 17%. &a;lt;donotpaginate&a;gt;