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A stack of gold bars.MICHAEL DALDER/Reuters

The private equity-led hostile bid for Chaparral Gold Corp. expired with a whimper. But the company's chief executive, Nick Appleyard, is looking either for a partner or to be acquired, and said his list of suitors could include the same private equity firm that launched the unsolicited offer.

For close to six months, the junior gold company resisted advances from Toronto-based Waterton Global Resource Management.

Chaparral said Waterton's $59-million proposal undervalued the company and was opportunistic. Chaparral knocked on the doors of fellow miners in attempts to find a white knight for its two gold properties in Nevada.

There was some interest. But then the U.S. environmental protection agency raised questions about one of Chaparral's subsidiaries, and scared the prospective buyers away.

That left Waterton as the only suitor. The private equity firm, which is teeming with former Barrick Gold Corp. experts, was still eager to get its hands on Chaparral's gold properties. So it raised its offer with no success. Chaparral said no, and the bid expired Aug.1.

One week later, Chaparral's chief executive said his company is "open to being taken over."

The miner is also open to "another transaction" or a "merger of equals," Mr. said in an interview.

Mr. Appleyard knows the realities of the gold mining industry, which has been hit hard by the slump in bullion prices and slagged for not reining in costs. Investors have no appetite to finance explorers or developers. Chaparral's gold projects are at least two years away from production.

Mr. Appleyard said he thinks companies under $1-billion in market capitalization would be the right fit for Chaparral. He also welcomes another Waterton bid, and said he has "no hard feelings" after the drawn-out fight.

Today, Waterton controls 19.7 per cent of the Arizona-headquartered Chaparral.

Chaparral has adopted a so-called poison pill, a defensive mechanism to prevent unsolicited bids.

Waterton could not immediately be reached for comment.