UPDATE 2-With eye on debt, Barrick to sell stake in Zaldivar copper mine
(Updates to focus on Zaldivar stake sale)
April 27 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold Corp said on Monday it has started the process to sell a stake in its Zaldivar copper mine in Chile as the world's biggest gold miner works to meet an ambitious debt reduction target of $3 billion by year end.
Speculation has been rife for weeks that Barrick could sell all or some of the open-pit mine in northern Chile.
Confirmation of the planned sale was contained in Barrick's quarterly results release, which showed the Toronto-based miner reporting first-quarter earnings below analysts' expectations.
Reuters reported last week that Barrick is being advised on options for Zaldivar by the boutique firm of mining rainmaker Michael Klein, in a deal potentially worth around $2 billion, three sources familiar with the matter said.
Barrick did not say how much of Zaldivar it was planning to sell but said there has been "strong interest" in the asset.
Sources have said it could be of interest to other mining companies as well as private equity funds like the mining arm of Warburg Pincus and Mick Davis' X2, among others.
Numerous companies have also shown interest in the previously announced sales of its Cowal and Porgera mines, Barrick said.