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Barrick, the world’s biggest gold producer, has vowed to cut its debt by at least $3-billion this year and has already raised $850-million from other mine sales.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Barrick Gold Corp. said it sold half of its South American copper mine to Antofagasta PLC for $1-billion, in a deal that will see the Chilean company operate the mine.

The sale of Zaldivar will help Barrick slash its $13-billion debt. The company, the world's biggest gold producer, has vowed to cut its debt by at least $3-billion this year and has already raised $850-million from other mine sales. Barrick will have to raise an additional $1-billion to meet its debt-reduction goal.

Barrick and Antofagasta will create a board to oversee Zaldivar, with each company contributing three directors.

An Antofagasta appointee will chair the board until 2017. After that time, the chairmanship will rotate between the two miners.

Antofagasta will pay Barrick $980-million in cash when the deal is due to close later this year and $25-million over the next five years for the Zaldivar stake.

Barrick's copper mine was one of the hottest assets to hit the market. It attracted attention from a wide swath of potential buyers, including from major companies BHP Billiton, China Molybdenum Co. and Chile's Empresas Copec.

Barrick, the world's biggest gold producer, said it was exploring other joint ventures and potential sales. The company is under pressure to reduce debt and strengthen its balance sheet as precious metal prices continue to fall.

Sources have said the miner is considering raising capital from one of its key gold mines in the Americas called Pueblo Viejo.