Barrick Buys Xstrata Assets In Chile

NEW YORK (AP) -- Barrick Gold Corp., the world's biggest gold producer, said Monday it has agreed to pay $465 million in cash to buy a majority stake in a Chilean gold and copper project from a unit of Xstrata PLC.

Under the terms, Toronto-based Barrick would acquire a 70 percent stake in El Morro project, near its Pascua-Lama mine straddling Chile and Argentina. The deal is expected to close at the end of January.

New Gold Inc., which owns the remaining 30 percent of El Morro, has until Jan. 11 to exercise a right of first refusal to purchase Xstrata's stake. That right has to expire or be waived before Barrick can finalize the acquisition.

El Morro has indicated gold resources of about 8.3 million ounces and indicated copper resources of about 6.3 billion pounds, according to research by Zug, Switzerland-based Xstrata.

The acquisition also would include 800 square kilometers (308.8 square miles) available for exploration and a resource feasibility study.

Barrick has said Pascua-Lama production should be between 750,000 ounces and 800,000 ounces of gold and 35 million ounces of silver in the first five years. It is expected to start production in 2013.

Shares of Barrick Gold rose 26 cents to $39.74 and Vancouver-based New Gold rose 20 cents to $4.47 in morning trading.

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