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Cheap gold mines disappear as buyers splurge for surging bullion

So much for the run on cheap gold mines. Producers who were forced by slumping prices to unload assets last year are regaining leverage.

Geologist Leonard Karr, shows mineral formations inside an abandoned gold mine once exploded by the British, in Egypt's eastern desert, between Luxor and Hurghada. Photo: Brian Rohan/AP

With bullion off to its biggest rally to start a year in four decades -- aided by the U.K.'s vote to quit the EU -- mine buyers are paying higher premiums and the pace of deals is accelerating, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The value of reserves held by major producers has almost doubled since the third quarter of last year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

The revival comes after a three-year slump led to losses, rising debt and a fire sale of assets. With valuations dropping, private equity firms and companies including Zijin Mining Group Ltd. pounced. The number of acquisitions worth at least $1 million rose 14 percent last year to 192, the first increase since 2010, data compiled by Bloomberg show. But now investors are pouring money into gold funds, and prices are near the highest in more than two years, boosting premiums for available mining assets that are getting harder to find...

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