Transactions for base metals and gold assets almost doubled last year as the year saw a welcome improvement in mining asset transactions, with SNL Metals & Mining recording 73 acquisitions that were individually valued at over $10 million. In a recent report, Base Metals and Gold Acquisitions Activity, 2005-14, SNL calculates that these deals totalled $21.56 billion, compared with $11.88 billion in 2013. Despite the near doubled year-on-year increase, 2014’s total was the third lowest in the past ten years, with only 2013 and 2009 ($14.88 billion) being lower.For the past few years, mining companies have been cautious in acquisitions, and since 2012 have bought fewer assets that require large capital investment. Instead, companies have opted to maximise the value of assets they already own, and to enter joint ventures that reduce costs while at least maintaining production.Last year’s jump in total takeover value came entirely from the acquisition of base metals assets (copper, nickel and zinc), which rose from 24 deals priced at only $3.11 billion in 2013 to 29 deals priced at $13.08 billion in 2014. The total amount paid for gold acquisitions was essentially the same year-on-year at $8.48 billion, in 44 deals compared with 61 deals in 2013.The spending of $13.08 billion on base-metals acquisitions last year was more than three-times the amount spent in 2013. The average cost of these base-metals acquisition in 2014 was $451 million, compared with $210 million in 2013 and $1,170 million in 2012. This increase was almost entirely due to copper, with the spending on nickel increasing by only 4% and zinc acquisitions tumbling 73%.Technologies to improve base metal recoveries will be examined in the June issue of International Mining magazine.The copper deals highlighted by SNL accounted for 23 of the 29 base metals deals and almost 97% of the price paid — $12.67 billion for 68.5 Mt of copper in reserves and resources. Four nickel deals totalled $381 million for 2.5 Mt of nickel, and the two primary zinc deals were priced at a total of $26.2 million for 2.1 Mt of contained zinc. The total price paid in these base-metals takeovers was only 1.8% of the value of the contained metal in the assets acquired, a slight increase over the 1.2% recorded in 2013.The spending of $8.48 billion on gold acquisitions last year represented a fall of 3% compared with 2013. The average cost of these acquisitions was $193 million, compared with $144 million in 2013. Sixteen of the 44 gold acquisitions were for producing companies and mines at an average cost of $318 million, compared with an average of $440 million for the 15 producers acquired in 2013.Of the combined 73 base metals and gold acquisitions in 2014, over one-third (26) were by Canada-based companies, with these deals valued at over $9.02 billion, representing 42% of the total. Another 13 deals, totalling $7.52 billion, were by Australian companies, and seven deals, totalling $1.32 billion, were by companies headquartered in China.The Canadian companies acquired assets at an average transaction price of $347 million. This compared with $578 million for purchases by Australian companies, only $188 million by Chinese companies and an average of $478 million in the three acquisitions by U.K.-based companies. Of the 19 other countries hosting buyers, Mexico had one buyer paying $450 million.