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Kinross throws cold water on dividend, M&A

It has been about three-and-a-half years since Kinross Gold Corp. offered a dividend.

The gold miner cut it back in 2013 under pressure from a falling gold price. Back then, Kinross said it wanted to protect its balance sheet.

But with the price of gold relatively stable in recent years and profits bouncing back, the question of whether a dividend might also make a comeback cropped up Aug. 3 during Kinross' second-quarter conference call.

Might Kinross reinstate it? The short answer is that it is not likely, at least not anytime soon.

Paul Rollinson, Kinross' president and CEO, said the company is not considering it "at the present time" but it is a "question we might entertain post 2020."

For the time being, he said, the company is focused on investing profits back in the business, most notably as it expands its Tasiast mine in Mauritania. The first phase of the expansion is 55% complete, according to the company, with commercial production anticipated in the second quarter of 2018.

Rollinson also faced questions about M&A. Would Kinross pursue them with US$2.5 billion in liquidity to play with? As with dividends, Rollinson described a conservative strategy.

"We do look ... but we don't have to transact," he said. "I think we're keeping an open mind."

Rollinson's view is that Kinross can grow through its own pipeline of projects and does not face pressure either to buy or sell with a healthy cash pile and recent profits to support it.

He noted that in the past five years, Kinross has only done one transaction. That discipline is not about to change, he said.

Kinross holds US$1.1 billion in cash and equivalents and has US$1.4 billion in undrawn credit facilities. It also has US$1.75 billion in long-term debt, with the nearest maturity coming in 2021.