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Barrick Gold Corp could have nine of the world’s top gold mines in a “relatively short” time under its $6.1 billion acquisition of African miner Randgold Resources Ltd, Barrick Executive Chairman John Thornton said Thursday.

Barrick and Randgold will focus on Tier 1 assets which produce 500,000 ounces of gold annually, have a mine life of more than 10 years and are low cost. The combined company, subject to a Nov. 5 shareholder vote, will have five of the world’s top 10 Tier 1 assets, Thornton said.

“This combination could have as many as nine Tier 1 assets within a relatively short period of time,” he said on a conference call with analysts to discuss quarterly financial results.

Barrick’s Fourmile project and Turquoise Ridge mine in Nevada have “high potential” to become Tier 1 assets, Thornton said, adding there is also optimism about what can be done with its Veladero mine in Argentina and Acacia’s North Mara mine in Tanzania.

Talks with the government of Tanzania, to resolve a long-running tax dispute affecting Barrick’s Acacia Mining unit, are continuing but have slowed, senior vice-president Kevin Thomson said on the call.

“We continue to be optimistic that we will get to the right place,” Thomson said, but would not provide a time frame for any resolution.

This week, a third Acacia employee was charged with corruption and money-laundering.

Barrick has not held any talks with Acacia about buying out the 31.9 percent stake that it does not own, he said in response to a question about a Bloomberg report that Barrick favors taking back control of Acacia after the Randgold deal closes.

Barrick has also identified non-core assets that it will consider selling, among other options, to maximize value, Thornton said.

Barrick is in “slow-motion, long-term conversations” with partners in Saudi Arabia and China who are highly interested in Barrick’s copper assets, he added.

Thornton, who last week joined Randgold CEO Mark Bristow to meet with shareholders in the United States, Canada and Europe, encouraged investors to vote on the deal.

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