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First Quantum Seeks to Cooperate With Xstrata in Peru

First Quantum Minerals Ltd., the Canadian mining company that today agreed to buy the Haquira copper project in Peru, will seek to cooperate with Xstrata Plc and other developers of nearby mineral resources.

“We’ll inevitably talk to any operator in the region to create synergy in the infrastructure,” Clive Newall, president of Vancouver-based First Quantum, told a conference call. “We’ve got to own the project before we can start discussions.”

First Quantum, seeking to diversify after a battle over mining rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo, agreed to pay C$460 million ($450 million) for Antares Minerals Inc., which owns the Haquira site next to Xstrata’s Las Bambas copper and gold development. The companies may be able to share power sources, road access and a pipeline in the region, said John Gregory, an engineering consultant for First Quantum.

The mine operator expects an initial investment of $2.06 billion including working capital and a 20 percent margin for unexpected events, Newall said. Haquira has 3.7 million metric tons of contained copper equivalent and inferred resources of 2.4 million tons of contained copper equivalent, he said.

Copper Concentrate

The mine can produce an annual 230,000 tons of copper concentrate in the first 10 years at a so-called cash cost of $0.89 a pound, Newall said.

Xstrata, which also operates the Antapaccay and Tintaya projects in the region, declined to comment on First Quantum’s statements.

“The acquisition of Antares is another step in First Quantum’s stated strategy of geographical diversification,” Chief Executive Officer Philip Pascall said in a statement. “Haquira is a world-class copper project and has the potential to significantly increase First Quantum’s copper production.”

First Quantum will offer the equivalent of C$6.35 for each Antares share, a 46 percent premium to the volume-weighted average trading price on the Toronto Stock Exchange for the 20 trading days ended Oct. 15, the statement shows.

The acquirer will offer shareholders 0.07619 of its own shares for each Antares stock they hold or an aggregate maximum cash payment of C$250 million. The board of directors at Antares unanimously approved the transaction and will recommend shareholders vote in favor, according to First Quantum, which expects to complete the deal in December.

Cash Portion

Antares gained C$2.09, or 47 percent, to C$6.58 at 3:59 p.m. in Toronto trading, while First Quantum dropped 0.5 percent to C$82.66.

First Quantum said it will fund the cash portion of the acquisition with internal resources.

Antares agreed to pay C$13.5 million if the transaction fails to complete to First Quantum, which also gained the right to try to match any competing offers, according to the statement.

First Quantum has lost control of its biggest projects in Congo in the past year and has a case before a Paris arbitration court to try to resolve a dispute over the $750 million Kolwezi copper venture. The Congolese government shuttered the project last year and in August sold the rights to the development to Eurasian Natural Resources Corp.

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