On April 25,  Barrick Gold announced a friendly takeover offer for Equinox Minerals that valued Equinox at C$7.3 billion, topping a C$6.3-billion offer that Minmetals Resources had said, in an announcement dated April 4, 2011, it intended to make for Equinox. As of the date of Barrick’s offer, Minmetals had not commenced its offer, and the day following Barrick’s offer, Minmetals said it had decided not to pursue its planned bid for Equinox.

Equinox signed a support agreement with Barrick regarding Barrick’s offer, and Equinox’s board of directors unanimously recommended Equinox shareholders tender their shares to the offer. Barrick’s offer was to remain open until June 1, 2011, unless extended or withdrawn, and was conditional on at least 66-2/3% of Equinox shares being tendered. As part of its agreement with Barrick, Equinox said it would withdraw its unsolicited C$4.8-billion bid for Lundin Mining, announced February 28, 2011.

Equinox has two major assets, its 100%-owned Lumwana open-pit copper mine in Zambia and its 70%-owned Jabal Sayid development project in Saudi Arabia. Equinox is in the process of acquiring the remaining 30% of Jabal Sayid.

The Lumwana mine started up in 2008 and produced 323 million lb of copper in concentrates in 2010. Its reserves total 4.5 billion lb of copper, and its inferred mineral resources total 5.5 billion lb of copper.

Jabal Sayid is projected to produce an average of more than 100 million lb/y of copper in concentrates and has reserves totaling 1.2 billion lb of copper. Mining will be from two underground lodes and one open-pit.

With regard to the offer, Barrick President and CEO Aaron Regent said, “Combined with our Zaldivar mine and Cerro Casale project in Chile, this acquisition would position Barrick with significant production growth potential in two of the most prolific copper-producing regions of the world. This will be in addition to our targeted growth in annual gold production to 9 million oz within the next five years.”

On April 27, Barrick reported its first-quarter 2011 financial and operating results. Its net earnings for the period rose 22% to $1 billion from $820 million during the first quarter of 2010. Gold production during the quarter totaled 1.96 million oz at total cash costs of $437/oz and was ahead of plan, primarily as a result of higher production from the company’s Cortez, Goldstrike, and Veladero mines. Barrick is forecasting full-year 2011 production in the range of 7.6 million to 8 million oz of gold at total cash costs of $450 to $480/oz. The company is targeting annual gold production of 9 million oz within the next five years.

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