(Bloomberg) — A senior gold-mining executive sees the potential for a record year of mergers and acquisitions as companies turn to deals to prop up production at a time of rising bullion prices.

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An M&A cycle that kicked off with Barrick Gold Corp.’s 2018 takeover of Randgold followed by Newmont Corp.’s purchase of Goldcorp is only just beginning, said David Garofalo, the former Goldcorp boss who now oversees Gold Royalty Corp.

In the past decade and a half, the industry has been focused on strengthening balance sheets and paying dividends, resulting in a depletion of reserves. To avoid that turning into a production slump, companies will scoop up more single-asset players, Garofalo said in an interview Monday. At the same time, the prospect of accelerating inflation and higher interest rates will drag money out of equity markets and into safe havens, with gold potentially reaching $3,000 an ounce as soon as this year from about $1,800 now, he said.

“This is just the beginning of the M&A cycle,” Garofalo said.

He also sees further consolidation in the streaming and royalty business, which offers upfront payments in exchange for the right to a percentage of production or revenue.

His company, Gold Royalty, went public last year and has announced takeovers including Abitibi Royalties Inc. and Golden Valley Mines & Royalties Ltd. Now it’s homing in on Elemental Royalties Corp., whose board recommended shareholders reject an all-share hostile bid. Garofalo said the offer already gives full value as well as a path to liquidity for Elemental shares.

Gold Royalty will keep looking at growth opportunities as it seeks the mid-tier status that appeals to institutional investors, Garofalo said.

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