Barrick Gold makes £5bn copper push

Steve Dinneen
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RIO Tinto and BHP Billiton could soon face a new copper-mining rival after Barrick Gold announced a £4.7bn bid for Australia-based Equinox Resources.

Canada-listed Barrick’s bid topped an earlier offer from China’s Minmetals Resources in a big bet on soaring copper demand. It represents the miner’s first major push outside its core gold-mining business.

Equinox shares jumped nearly 12 per cent in Toronto after the announcement yesterday, signalling some expectation of a counter-bid from the Chinese metals powerhouse. Barrick shares shed five per cent, suggesting not all investors agree with the move to diversify.

Already the world’s largest gold miner, Barrick will double its position in copper with the acquisition.

Prices for the industrial metal have risen more than sevenfold in the past eight years as supplies lag the surging needs of China and other developing economies.

Equinox, an Australian company listed in Toronto and Sydney, owns the Lumwana copper mine in the rich Zambian copper belt and most of the Jabal Sayid project in Saudi Arabia.

Barrick’s bid represents an 8.7 per cent premium over Equinox’s Thursday closing price. The all-cash bid is 16 per cent higher than the £4bn offer that Minmetals presented earlier this month. The proposal underscored China’s growing prominence in the global race for resources.