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CEO of Lundin Mining, Marie Inkster, poses for a photograph in Toronto, on July 25, 2018.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

Paul Conibear, Lundin Mining Corp.’s long-serving chief executive officer, has decided to retire, and will be replaced by current chief financial officer Marie Inkster at the end of the year.

Mr. Conibear, 61, has been Lundin’s CEO since 2011. He will continue to sit on a number of boards but has “no intention of ever working full time again,” and intends to pursue interests outside of mining, he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ms. Inkster will be one of the first female CEOs of a major mining company in Canada.

The changing of the guard at one of Canada’s biggest base-metals companies comes as Lundin is getting ready to ramp up its attempts to buy Nevsun Resources Ltd.

Mr. Conibear said that in light of Nevsun’s refusal to accept Lundin’s informal acquisition proposals, the miner intends to go directly to Nevsun’s shareholders and table a formal takeover offer “by Friday, if not before.”

Last week, Toronto-based Lundin said it was willing to pay $1.4-billion in cash for Nevsun, modifying an earlier offer that saw it offering cash and stock, and teaming up with a junior partner on the deal. Nevsun argued Lundin’s latest offer still undervalued the company. Mr. Conibear said Lundin has since modified its offer to Nevsun one more time, but that offer, which has not yet been publicly disclosed, has also been rejected by Nevsun.

The news of Mr. Conibear’s retirement will likely come as a surprise to some. In an interview with The Globe and Mail in December, when asked whether he had any plans to retire, he said he wasn’t planning on going anywhere. But on Wednesday, he said he’d been thinking of retiring for some time.

An accountant by training, Ms. Inkster, 47, was born and raised in the Nova Scotia fishing village of Canso. She entered the mining industry in 2002, initially taking a finance position at junior nickel miner Lionore Mining International Ltd. Lionore was subsequently sold at the apex of the previous great commodities bull market for roughly $4.7-billion. She joined Lundin in 2008 as vice-president of finance and was promoted to CFO in 2009.

While female CEOs are a rarity in the traditionally male-dominated mining industry, there have been some notable exceptions. Cynthia Carroll, who worked as head of primary metals at Canadian aluminum giant Alcan, went on to become CEO of huge multinational miner Anglo American PLC, from 2007 until 2012. Earlier this year, Eira Thomas was named CEO of Canadian junior mining company Lucara Diamond Corp. Catherine Raw is the CFO of Barrick Gold Corp., the world’s biggest gold mining company by production, and is seen as a front-runner to replace Kelvin Dushnisky, who is leaving the president role at Barrick at the end of next month to be CEO of South African senior AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.

At Lundin, Ms. Inkster will guide a company worth $5.4-billion that employs around 9,000 people.

“I feel excited about the opportunity,” Ms. Inkster said in an interview. “I truly believe that they picked the best person, as opposed to the best woman.”

Mr. Conibear will officially retire at the end of 2018.

If and when a takeover offer for Nevsun is formally tabled, Nevsun shareholders will have 105 days to tender their shares. To be successful, Lundin will need at least two-thirds of Nevsun shareholders to tender to its offer.

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Lundin Mining Corp
+4.48%17.5

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