* Eyes open for mines, M&A; no comment on Exeter
* Shares hope for Reko Diq project by 2015
SANTIAGO, April 8 (Reuters) - The world’s largest gold miner Barrick Gold (ABX.TO) is looking to buy more mines, chief executive Aaron Regent said on Thursday, but he declined to comment on potential interest in junior miner Exeter XRC.TO.
Exeter’s chief geologist said this week the company had signed confidentiality agreements with several parties including Barrick that are interested in the Caspiche project in Chile, although a company lawyer said the firm was not in deal mode or active discusions. [ID:nN06106873]
The Caspiche project is located in the Maricunga Belt of Chile, between Barrick and Kinross Gold’s Cerro Casale gold-copper deposit 10 kilometres to the south and Kinross Gold’s Maricunga Mine 15 kilometres to the north.
“In terms of corporate development, we’re active, looking to grow the business by acquiring additional mines,” Regent told Reuters in the Chilean capital. He noted the company is investing in its existing projects as well. Asked about Exeter, he decline to comment.
“In terms of M&A, we’ll benchmark the opportunities that are out there against what we have in the pipeline.”
Regent also reiterated that it hoped to ramp up its $3 billion Pascua-Lama silver-gold mine by 2013, a long-stalled development but one whose vast silver reserves will cover the cost of production, “so you get the gold for free”.
Barrick also shared the view of its joint-venture partner Antofagasta that it could bring online its Reko Diq Pakistan project by 2015, with an aim to conclude all necessary permits and agreements over the next six to 12 months, he added.
“There’s not much flexibility to move that forward,” he said.
In Peru, Barrick has managed to extend the life of its Pierina gold mine in Peru by a year to 2013, and was working to extend the life of its Lagunas Norte development beyond the current 2017 end date. (Reporting by Jonathan Leff and Fabian Cambera; Editing by David Gregorio)