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Thursday, April 17 2014 @ 08:35 AM EDT

Gold Mining and Mineral Exploitation

Back in the early 1990's several groups, mostly Canadians, obtained concessions to exploit mineral deposits in the Republic of Panama. None of them were put into operation in a significant manner because of the economics - due to the price of gold, silver, copper, and other minerals it simply did not make sense to invest in the infrastructure required to extract the minerals held under Panama's soil. Then 9/11 happened. In March of 2001 the price of gold was under $300 per ounce, and in the past six years gold has risen to over $650 per ounce. And while that's good, it's not nearly as attractive as the copper deposits, which could turn out to be the largest on the planet. Copper was at under $.50 cents per pound in early 2001, and now it's well over $3.00 per pound due to increasing demand from the exploding economies of China and India. All of that means that in about 2004 investment in Panamanian mining suddenly became a smart business decision. The money started pouring in and has not stopped. The numbers are in the billions. In this section of you will find articles related to gold and the mining industry. If you require additional information about this or any other category of information regarding the Republic of Panama please take advantage of our powerful in-house search engine. And if you still can't find what you're looking for we even take requests! Welcome aboard, and please remember to tell your friends about, the #1 English Language Website about the Republic of Panama. Salud.
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First Quantum ups Cobre Panama output estimate but start delayed

Gold & MiningBy Sakthi Prasad and Silvia Antonioli BANGALORE/LONDON (Reuters) - First Quantum Minerals Ltd's Cobre Panama project in Central America should produce about 20 percent more copper than previously planned, but initial production will be delayed and development costs will be higher, the company said on Tuesday.

Vancouver-based First Quantum, which bought the huge copper project in Panama via its C$5.1 billion ($4.8 billion) takeover of rival Inmet Mining last year, said after a lengthy review it now expects output of 320,000 tonnes a year, 20 percent more than Inmet had planned.

It also estimated a higher capital cost for the project at $6.4 billion, up $200,000 from the Inmet estimate and said production would start in late 2017, roughly a year later than Inmet had expected.

"The revised scope of the project is broadly in line with expectations, and higher annual production should be broadly offset by higher capital expenditure and a one-year delay to first production," said Jefferies analyst Christopher LaFemina, in a client note.

The miner had promised a revised estimate and project schedule before the end of 2013. But late last year, it delayed releasing the update, saying it had to "correct a number of acquired technical and logistical shortcomings."

While the overall capital expenditure costs are now slightly higher than earlier estimates, analysts noted increased output would lower the project's capital intensity, as measured per tonne of installed capacity.

"We believe the enhancement of the project and reduced capital intensity further improves the project's economics and see these changes as a positive impact for the company," said Goldman Sachs analyst Fawzi Hanano, in a client note.

The Canadian miner also announced a refinancing package and a bond swap proposal to Inmet note holders.

"We see this debt refinancing as an important positive that should alleviate near-term balance sheet concerns," said LaFemina, noting it also better aligns debt maturities when the company's growth projects are scheduled to come online.


The miner said it has signed a $2.5 billion five-year term loan and revolving facility with its banks, primarily to support its capital program.

It has also made an exchange offer to holders of Inmet notes which are currently the subject of litigation.

Some debtholders alleged last year that First Quantum had violated indentures and defaulted on a parcel of debt taken on following its acquisition of Inmet.

First Quantum strongly disputed the claims which prompted credit rating agency Moody's to put the Canadian miner under review for a potential downgrade.

As part of the swap proposal, which needs approval from the majority of the bondholders, $2 billion in notes issued by Inmet will be exchanged for two groups of $1.14 billion new First Quantum bonds which will mature in 2020 and 2021.

"The announcement is a net positive for the stock," Citi analysts said. "While there is yet no resolution on the bondholder litigation it would appear that the group is close to the required sign up for the bond exchange, which would effectively remove past claims."

First Quantum, which owns mines and projects across South America, Africa, Europe and Australia, is poised to become one of the world's largest copper producers over the next five years as a number of projects including Cobre Panama begin production.

Editor's Comment: So, this company is going to pump $6.4 billion dollars into the Panamanian economy between now and 2017 to build this new massive copper mine. Fantastic. Amazingly good news for the Panamanian economy and the Panamanian people. I know there are people out there who are vehement anti-mining types due to environmental concerns. However I strongly believe in this modern era it is possible to mitigate those concerns and conduct mining operations in an environmentally responsible manner. Granted - there's nothing "pretty" about an open pit copper mine. But open heart surgery isn't so pretty, either...

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Panama has $200 billion in mineral reserves

Gold & MiningMining is one of the sectors that is gaining strength in the Panamanian economy. Last year it grew by more than 25%. And it is estimated there are proven reserves worth approximately $200 billion.

"Panama has identified 50 billion pounds of copper, 12 million ounces of gold, 25,000 ounces of silver, and 250 tons of molybdenum. This adds up to $200 billion," said Zorel Morales, the Executive Chairman of the Mining Chamber of Panama.

Of this total, 53% will stay in the country through income taxes and dividends, said the senior executive of the organization.

Projects In Development

But despite Panama's important mineral reserves, mining is not well developed in the country.

There is only one operating gold mine - in Molejón in the province of Cocle, operated by Petaquilla Gold.

Right now a new mining project is being built to extract copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum, by Minera Panama, in Donoso, province of Colon.

It is estimated the new mine will begin operations within two and a half years. It's a big project.

There is another mine being built at Cerro Quema in Los Santos of medium size, which could be in operation within a year and a half.

In addition, a company is doing feasibility studies to look into the possibility of reopening the Santa Rosa mine, located in the province of Veraguas.

Mining activity produces 2.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, all projections indicate that in two or three years mining will take on a greater participation in the economic structure of Panama.

The trend indicates that in 2013 the mining and quarrying activity produced about $ 550 million, as measured by real gross domestic product.

Last year $5.1 billion was invested in Panama for the development of mining.

Minera Panama invested $5 billion while the Santa Rosa and Cerro Quema projects invested $100 million.

For 2014 wide variations are expected, "we do not expect there to be a significant increase in exports because the sector's flagship project, Minera Panama, is still being built," Morales said.

But not everything that glitters is not gold. Last year the business did not go through its best moments.

Gold exports fell by 35% influenced by the fall in prices of this metal.

But despite this setback, mining activity is destined to be the most important economic activity in the country, given the large reserves of minerals in the country.

However, it must overcome opposition from environmental groups, among others. (Estrella)

Editor's Comment: Minera Panama is going to invest more - and spend more money - to build their mine than it will cost to build the expansion of the Panama Canal. Eventually when all of these new mining projects are up and running they will be bringing in new revenue worth almost as much as the Panama Canal. So yeah, right now all of the money is coming in thanks to Foreign Direct Investment as these companies plow investor dollars into building infrastructure. But the real big numbers come once the mine is operating. All of the money spend on operations and maintenance will remain in Panama. The government of Panama receives a percentage of every dollar earned in the form of either taxes or commissions.

And of course, it's mining, so there will be constant opposition from environmentalists. I believe there are ways to responsibly mitigate the potential environmental damages, and to extract the minerals in a manner that does not necessarily have to produce toxic sludge for generations. However, no one ever called an open pit copper mine in the jungle "pretty."

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Petaquilla Sold Goverment's Lands

Gold & MiningAs a property developer of Panama’s lands, the Panamanian company chaired by Richard Fifer Carles, Petaquilla Minerals, Ltd., has explored beyond their concession and is selling lands protected by the Government to other mining companies.

Petaquilla Minerals, Ltd. sold 70 square kilometers in Belencillo, Donoso, province of Colon, to the company Gold Dragon for mining purposes. This is an area larger than Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro.

By selling what Petaquilla called "the Belencillo concession" -land that Petaquilla has requested from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Mici) to explore- Gold Dragon paid $1.1 million in shares, plus 600 thousand in exploring expenses.

Fifer reports in his blog and corporate presentations of Petaquilla an “aggressive exploration plan” with encouraging results.

But this takes place in communities outside their mining concession, which only allows you to explore and exploit minerals in 136 square kilometers.

However, Petaquilla intervened in an area covering 53 thousand square kilometers which, according to what Petaquilla has announced to the Security Exchange Commission of the United States, the regulatory institution of securities, is part of its concession.

Petaquilla calls this area as its mining district, and it includes part of Colon and Cocle, and two protected zones.

Ricardo Quijano, head of Mici, does not clarify whether the Government ceded these lands to Fifer’s companies or Petaquilla is speculating. (Prensa)

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Mining Company States They Own 1.5% Of The Entire Territory

Gold & MiningAbout 51 thousand square kilometers are being used for the mining extraction, which is around 21 times the size of San Miguelito or the equivalent to 1.5% of the country, including part of the provinces of Colon and Cocle is allegedly owned by Petaquilla Minerals LTD, chaired by the Panamanian citizen Richard Fifer.

The information used to promote the company to its shareholders and future investors, is published through documents and maps before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States, entity in charge of regulating valuables in that country.

However, in Panama, the Ministry of Commerce (MICI) reports that Petaquilla has only one concession, under the Contract-Law 9 of 1997, which represents just a fraction of what it claims to have: 136 square kilometers shared with Minera Panama.

The mining companies refuse to explain how much has been given to them by the state for their activity or whether or not they have permission for scanning the areas.(La Prensa)

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Residents Fear Gold Mine Development In Santa Fe

Gold & MiningResidents of Santa Fe, in the province of Veraguas, are concerned about the possibility of mining development for gold mining, specifically in Santa Fe National Park.

That would be a total of 13,200 hectares of Coordillera Central where intervention would be done. (Telemetro)

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First Quantum Wins $5 Billion Battle For Copper Rival Inmet

Gold & MiningReuters - TORONTO/LONDON -- First Quantum Minerals Ltd. said on Friday it had won enough shareholder support to take over Inmet Mining Corp., winning a CA$5.1 billion hostile battle for control of one of the world's largest untapped copper deposits.

The deal — the latest in an industry that has concentrated to leave ever fewer pure copper miners behind — creates one of the world's biggest producers of the red metal.

It also transforms First Quantum, which until now has made more than 80 percent of its profit in Zambia.

First Quantum, for its part, faces arguably its toughest test to date in Inmet's US$6.2 billion Cobre Panama project, the jewel in the miner's crown.

Cobre Panama is one of the biggest untapped copper deposits in the world, but also one of the most expensive — in an untested country with little mining history.

“They've certainly shown themselves to be very efficient and effective project managers in the past, successfully executing on what much larger firms have struggled with,” said Daniel Rohr, a mining analyst at Morningstar.

First Quantum, which cut its teeth in Zambia as the country re-privatized its mines in the 1990s, is betting its hands-on approach to construction, procurement and supervision will help slash costs at Cobre Panama while keeping to deadlines.

“There will be a hiatus of three to six months, whatever it takes to do a comprehensive reassessment and renegotiations where required. But our build time will be much shorter,” First Quantum President Clive Newall told Reuters.

“We have a two-year construction phase (at) our projects, so we will be able to stick pretty closely to Inmet's schedule, which was for commissioning at the end of 2016 or the beginning of 2017.”

Newall dismissed concerns that Inmet's existing contracts might have locked in high costs. But he said it would be “several months” before the group could publish specific targets and its own plan for the mine, where challenges include heavy tropical rainfall.

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First Quantum has its work cut out on Cobre Panama

Gold & MiningPav Jordan - It took six months and more than $5-billion for First Quantum Minerals Ltd. to get its hands on Cobre Panama, one of the world’s largest copper projects.

The trick now will be to build the mine on time and on budget in a world where costs have skyrocketed and the outlook for metals prices is murky. Moreover, Cobre is to be built in a country, Panama, that has virtually no mining industry to speak of.

Vancouver-based First Quantum gained control of the project this week with the hostile takeover of Inmet Mining Corp., and hopes it can shave as much as $1-billion (U.S.) from the $6.2-billion construction cost budgeted by its current owner.

The mine, already fully financed under Inmet, will be the largest ever in Central America and represents the most ambitious development project in Panama since the building of the Panama Canal. After it comes into production in 2016, it is expected to produce about 300,000 tonnes of copper a year for 40 years.

Analysts are divided on whether First Quantum can build Cobre Panama more cheaply than Inmet, pointing to such massive cost escalation across the mining industry that it has felled free-spending CEOs and decimated smaller companies.

Specific challenges at Cobre Panama include the scale of the project, which is much bigger than anything First Quantum has built to date, and working in the Panama rainforest. The company will need to work with the government and local communities to assure them the project will proceed as planned under Inmet.

“The company has provided no information about where they think they could save on the costs as estimated by Inmet, and given their lack of experience in that part of the world … my assumption is that they won’t find any cost savings,” said Salman Partners Inc. analyst Raymond Goldie, pointing out the industry has seen cost inflation of about 15 per cent in the past year alone.

TD Securities Inc. analyst Greg Barnes said in a recent report that costs could be as high as $7-billion, and also forecast the project might take a year longer to build than Inmet’s base case scenario.

Delays have had among the most injurious effects on a project’s costs, especially where work forces numbering in the thousands must be maintained and co-ordinated.

On the other hand, analysts point at First Quantum’s mines in Mauritania, Zambia and Australia as proof it can build projects cheaper than rivals.

“By their own admission, First Quantum has identified about $1-billion that they don’t think needs to be spent on the project,” said John Hughes, an analyst with Desjardins Securities in Toronto.

First Quantum declined to comment because its acquisition of Inmet is not yet complete, with the deadline for shareholders to tender to the deal on March 21.

In an interview in January, First Quantum said the company could extract savings from indirect costs, such as contractors and staff not directly associated with equipment and plants.

The company had access to Inmet’s confidential books for nearly a week in February, including a visit to the property, but it may be months before it has sufficient data to map a cost-savings plan.

While differing on how much First Quantum can do to reduce costs, analysts agree the company will be challenged by a volatile copper market and uncertain demand from key markets. They point out that Panama, while politically stable, has no mining culture.

“Panama is not exactly a proven mining district,” Mr. Hughes said. “Without a real history and structure and without precedent set with regards to large mine development and construction, the Cobre Panama will be, really, the test project for existing mining laws in Panama.” (

Editor's Comment: I'm sort of glad the fight is over. This massive project, producing 300,000 tons of copper a year for 40 years, will create a new mining industry in Panama where none has really existed before. This will be yet another engine to fuel the continued expansion of the Panamanian economy.

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First Quantum Moves Closer to Acquiring Inmet

Gold & Miningby Deyana Ivanova - Vancouver-based copper miner First Quantum Minerals Ltd has moved closer to taking control of Inmet Mining Corp after most shareholders of the Toronto-based company tendered shares in favour of First Quantum's C$5.1 billion (£3.23 billion) hostile takeover bid designed to create one of the world’s largest copper producers.

First Quantum said in a statement issued on March 12 that a total of 43.2 million Inmet shares, representing about 61.45 percent of the company’s outstanding shares, had been tendered in favour of the cash-and-stock bid. Aiming to go forward with the deal, First Quantum said it extended its takeover bid by 10 days to 23:59 EDT on March 21 and lowered the level of minimum support required. It said it will now proceed with the transaction if more than 50 percent of Inmet’s outstanding shares are tendered in favour by March 21, instead of the initial target of more than two-thirds.

Moving Closer to Gaining Control of Cobre Panama - “We are delighted with the overwhelming support that Inmet shareholders have shown for our offer,” First Quantum’s Chief Executive Philip Pascall said, as quoted by The Financial Times. “It is our expectation that we will be in a position to complete the offer and begin taking up and paying for shares shortly following the expiry of the offer on March 21.”

The strong endorsement from Inmet’s shareholders and the lowering of the required minimum number of Inmet shares tendered to the offer takes First Quantum a step closer to acquiring its fellow company and gaining control of the Cobre Panama project. The $6.2 billion (£4.1 billion) project in the Central American country is First Quantum’s main goal and a driver for its acquisition efforts. The trophy mine is said to be one of the largest undeveloped copper resources in the word, expected to produce 300,000 tonnes of copper a year. Cobre Panama, plus Inmet’s other mining projects in Zambia, Peru and Finland, could put First Quantum’s annual copper production at over one million tonnes, making it one of the world’s largest pure-play copper miners.

First Quantum Extends Inmet Takeover Bid to March 21 - First Quantum Offer First Quantum’s takeover bid for Inmet is worth roughly C$5.1 billion, or C$72 a share, representing a 36 percent premium to Inmet’s closing share price on November 27, the day before the company announced that it had rejected two earlier, unsolicited offers from First Quantum. Having grown impatient after Inmet’s board denied its previous acquisition bids, First Quantum took its acquisition offer for Inmet to shareholders (First Quantum Launches Hostile Bid For Inmet). In response to this hostile takeover attempt, Inmet sent a letter to its stakeholders earlier this month urging them to reject the offer as too low, especially after taking into account a decline in the value of First Quantum’s shares amid a volatile copper market.

Copper prices currently hover near $3.50 a pound, compared to $3.80 a pound when First Quantum first approached Inmet with its acquisition proposal. Inmet shares, which closed at C$68.63 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on March 11, rose to trade closer to the First Quantum offer price the following day. They closed C$1.35 higher at $69.98 on March 12, while the First Quantum share price was up five Canadian cents at C$20.69.

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First Quantum closes in on Inmet Mining takeover; extends $5.1B offer

Gold & MiningVANCOUVER - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. is extending its $5.1-billion hostile takeover bid for Inmet Mining Corp. another 10 days until March 21 after coming up just short of acquiring two-thirds of the miner.

The offer had been set to expire Monday night, but was extended as First Quantum said some 61.45 per cent of Inmet's shares had been tendered to its bid.

The Inmet board has rejected the $72 per share offer - half in cash and half in stock - as inadequate.

However, even though the Inmet board urged shareholders to reject the deal, it waived application of a shareholder rights plan that would have thwarted the unsolicited bid after it failed to come up with a rival offer.

Philip Pascall, CEO and chairman of Vancouver, based First Quantum, declared himself "delighted" with the response to the offer.

"We have varied our offer such that the minimum tender condition will now be satisfied if more than 50 per cent of the Inmet shares have been tendered at the revised expiry time of the offer," Pascall added.

"Accordingly, with all regulatory approvals already received, it is our expectation that we will be in a position to complete the offer and begin taking up and paying for shares shortly following the expiry of the offer on March 21, 2013."

If more than two thirds of outstanding shares have been deposited by the new deadline, First Quantum will implement a subsequent transaction to acquire the balance of the Inmet shares, something that could take several months, the company said Tuesday.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Inmet shares were up $1.27 at $69.90 in early trading Tuesday, while First Quantum was up a penny at $20.65.

Inmet, with mining operations in Turkey, Spain and Finland, also owns 80 per cent of the Cobre Panama project through Minera Panama SA and the remainder is owned by Korea Panama Mining Corp.

The total cost of Cobre Panama is estimated at $6.2 billion, including $1.4 billion to be funded by Korea Panama Mining and $4.8 billion through Inmet.

Last year, Inmet signed a deal with a joint venture led by SNC-Lavalin Inc. for the first phase of the planning and construction of a process plant at the project.

First Quantum has said the combination of the two companies would create one of the world's fastest growing copper miners with the potential to produce more than 1.3 million tonnes of copper annually by 2018.

The bid by First Quantum follows the sale of its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kazakhstani miner Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. for $1.25 billion.

First Quantum had written off the value of the assets in 2010 after its operations in Congo were nationalized by the government of the mineral-rich central African country. (The Canadian Press)

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First Quantum wins Investment Canada Act approval for Inmet Mining takeover bid

Gold & MiningVANCOUVER - First Quantum Minerals Ltd. said Friday it has received regulatory approval under the Investment Canada Act for its $5.1-billion hostile takeover offer for Inmet Mining Corp.

Inmet has rejected the offer and recommended shareholders reject the bid, but has waived the application of a shareholder rights plan after a review of strategic alternatives.

The First Quantum stock-and-cash proposal, which is valued at $72 per share, is open until Monday.

Inmet has mining operations in Turkey, Spain and Finland, along with an 80 per cent interest in Cobre Panama, a development property in Panama currently in construction. (

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Inmet in talks to sell a minority stake in Panama mine

Gold & MiningBy Pav Jordan - Inmet Mining Corp. said on Friday it is in talks with a strategic investor to sell a minority stake in its mammoth Cobre Panama copper project at premium levels, urging shareholders once again to reject a hostile takeover bid for the whole company that expires on Monday.

“A transaction with a minority partner will further de-risk Cobre Panama. It will provide an upfront cash payment as well as a source of capital to fund the partner’s share of Cobre Panama capital costs going forward,” Inmet Chairman David Beatty said in an open letter to shareholders.

Toronto-based Inmet is trying to fight off a $5.1-billion, hostile takeover bid from First Quantum Minerals Ltd., a Vancouver-based copper miner focused on operations in Africa. The First Quantum bid expires on Monday at midnight.

Inmet did not provide further details about the talks to sell a stake in Cobre Panama. Previously , First Quantum has expressed concern about a potential stake sale diminishing the value of Inmet and viability of the takeover offer. (

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Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. : Inmet and Petaquilla Announce Commercial Agreement

Gold & MiningToronto, ON and Vancouver, BC - Inmet Mining Corporation ("Inmet") and its wholly owned subsidiary, Minera Panama S.A. ("MPSA"), and Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. with certain of its wholly owned subsidiaries (collectively, "Petaquilla") are pleased to announce the signing of a binding term sheet outlining the agreement of the companies relating to aggregate procurement, land access and use, settlement of certain claims, waiver of royalties to be received by Inmet, and camp site procurement for the mutual benefit of MPSA's and Petaquilla's mining operations in the District of Donoso, Panama.

The agreements reflected in the term sheet will be incorporated into a definitive agreement to be executed by the parties. The total value of the arrangements agreed to by the parties is up to US$150 million. Inmet will guarantee the obligations of MPSA under the term sheet and the definitive agreement to be executed between the parties.

The main commercial terms are as follows:

MPSA will purchase, and Petaquilla´s infrastructure division will supply, up to US$100 million (a minimum of US$75 million) of aggregates over a three year period for use in the Cobre Panama project;

MPSA will lease from Petaquilla´s mining division, for an annual rental of US$1.3 million, certain lands that will be used for temporary and permanent camp space for the Cobre Panama Project; and

Petaquilla has applied for mineral exploration concessions which, if granted, could entitle it to mineral exploration rights on land where Cobre Panama project infrastructure will be built.

If and when such concessions are granted, certain areas on which Cobre Panama infrastructure will be located shall be formally assigned to MPSA. MPSA shall also have an option to receive an assignment of certain areas of such concessions that are not required by MPSA under the current Cobre Panama project plans.

The remaining value of the agreement is comprised of forgiveness of royalties and release of certain monetary claims by Inmet and MPSA.

The term sheet reflects both companies' commitment to "promote the sustainable development of the Donoso mining district in accordance with the highest national and international social and environmental norms," said Petaquilla President Rodrigo Esquivel. Steve Botts, CEO and President of MPSA, commented, "I am very pleased we have reached this agreement, which represents a new chapter of collaboration between our companies and signals the continued development of a model mining industry in Panama."

Petaquilla and Inmet, former joint venture partners, have successfully negotiated other arrangements in the past, namely the 2005 Molejon Gold Project Agreement, which led to Petaquilla's gold mining operations at its Molejon gold deposit. (Press Release)

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Vancouver's Inmet Mining reaches US$150-million deal with Petaquilla Minerals

Gold & MiningTORONTO - Inmet Mining Corp. and Petaquilla Minerals Ltd. have reached a preliminary US$150-million commercial agreement for the two Canadian companies' projects in Panama.

Under the binding term sheet announced Monday, which requires a definitive agreement, the two companies have resolved a number of outstanding issues.

Their deal comes as Vancouver-based First Quantum attempts to acquire Inmet through a $5.1-billion hostile takeover bid that expires Wednesday.

Among other things, an Inmet subsidiary has agreed to buy from Petaquilla between US$75 million and US$100 million of aggregates — usually referring to sand, gravel or loose rock — for use in the Cobre Panama copper project.

Inmet will also lease certain lands from Petaquilla as sites for temporary and permanent worker camps at Cobre Panama, at a rate of US$1.3 million annually.

Toronto-based Inmet has also agreed to drop certain claims against Petaquilla, which is headquartered in Vancouver. (Vancouver Sun)

Editor's Comment: That's nice. It made no sense for these two companies to be fighting over the details when there's so much gold and copper in the ground under their feet. Personally I don't care what company is doing what, as long as these mines are developed in Panama, which will bring long term economic growth and jobs. The Inmet mine has a build out of more than $6 billion dollars - more than it cost to expand the Panama Canal. These mines are a very big deal for the Panamanian economy. Huge.

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First Quantum to pitch Inmet hostile takeover deal directly to shareholders

Gold & MiningVANCOUVER — First Quantum Minerals Ltd. will host a series of investor meetings to pitch its hostile takeover bid directly to Inmet shareholders after the mining company’s board rebuffed the $5.1-billion offer.

First Quantum said Inmet’s rejection did not include any compelling alternatives to its proposal and presented only “generic and rehearsed arguments.”

The investor meetings will give Inmet shareholders a chance to speak to and hear from members of First Quantum’s senior management team themselves.

“We hope you will be able join us at these events,” First Quantum chairman and chief executive Philip Pascall wrote in a letter to shareholders, released Thursday.

Inmet owns 80% of the Cobre Panama copper project through Minera Panama SA, with the remainder owned by Korea Panama Mining Corp.

In rejecting the offer, Inmet said the offer of $72 per share, half in cash and half in stock, undervalued the company and its Cobre Panama project.

The company pointed to the risk of swapping Inmet shares for those of First Quantum and the bidder’s relative lack of experience building a mine the size of the project in Panama.

Inmet also said this week it was in talks regarding a range of alternatives as it formally rejected First Quantum’s hostile takeover bid.

First Quantum said Thursday that Inmet should also open talks up with it.

“The Inmet Board has not heard from us about our business and about our plans for the combined entity, even though Inmet shareholders have been offered the opportunity to participate in our future success through ownership of First Quantum shares,” Pascall wrote in his letter.

“This clearly limits the Inmet Board’s ability to provide a sound and reliable recommendation to you on the merits of our offer.”

First Quantum has said the combination of the two companies would create one of the world’s fastest growing copper miners with the potential to produce more than 1.3 million tonnes of copper annually by 2018.

The bid by First Quantum follows the sale of its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kazakhstani miner Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. for $1.25-billion.

First Quantum had written off the value of the assets in 2010 after its operations in Congo were nationalized by the government of the mineral-rich central African country.

First Quantum increased its offer last month to $72 per Inmet share or about $5.1-billion after an earlier bid of $4.9-billion was also rejected.

Inmet shares were down 27 cents at $70.50 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday. (The Canadian Press)

Editor's Comment: This is an important Panama story because Inmet is the company developing the massive new copper mine here. The company plans to spend at least $6 billion dollars in Panama over the next five years just to build the mine and bring it on line, more than it cost to expand the Panama Canal.

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Inmet Urges Rejection of First Quantum’s Takeover Bid

Gold & MiningBY MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED for the NY Times - The Inmet Mining Corporation of Canada said on Tuesday that it had rejected a $5.2 billion takeover bid by a rival, First Quantum Minerals, arguing that the offer was too low.

The response, more than a month after First Quantum announced its latest cash-and-stock offer, may set off a race for Inmet, one of the world’s major copper miners.

Inmet said in its statement that it was considering “strategic alternatives,” usually code for a sale or joint venture. The company said it had approached a number of unnamed third parties about possible transactions.

In the meantime, Inmet is urging shareholders to reject First Quantum’s tender offer, which is scheduled to expire at 5 p.m. on Feb. 14. The bid was valued at about $72.87 last month.

The mining sector is playing host to a round of consolidation, as companies seek greater scale to take advantage of a boom in the production of metals and minerals. Last year, Glencore agreed to buy Xstrata in a $32 billion deal.

By merging with Inmet, First Quantum would be aiming to become one of the world’s biggest copper producers, producing about 1.3 million metric tons of the metal annually by 2018. Inmet Mining’s chairman, David Beatty, said the First Quantum bid undervalued the company. The Inmet board said in its statement on Tuesday that First Quantum’s offer failed to take into account the expected yields at its Cobre Panama site in Latin America. The 13,600-hectare site, located west of Panama City, is one of the biggest untapped copper deposits left in the world, and Inmet expects the site to increase its production by 176 percent in about five years’ time.

The company added that a merger could yield significant risks to its shareholders. In part, Inmet cited First Quantum’s poorer development record and lack of experience in Latin America.

“The Inmet Board has concluded that the First Quantum offer fails to adequately compensate shareholders for Inmet’s low risk asset base and its strong prospects for growth and value creation at Cobre Panama,” David R. Beatty, Inmet’s chairman, said in a statement.

“The board is engaged in a thorough and rigorous process aimed at investigating all potential strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value,” he added.

Inmet is being advised by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the law firm Torys, while a special committee of its board has retained Scotia Capital.

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