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Streetwise Former Kinross Gold CEO working on potential bid for Anglo assets

Former Kinross CEO Tye Burt is one of many people who were given the opportunity to examine Anglo American’s Mantoverde, Mantos Blancos and El Soldado mines.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

Kinross Gold Corp.'s former chief executive Tye Burt is interested in Anglo American PLC's three copper mines in Chile, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Burt is working with another former Kinross executive, Hugh Agro, to create another mining company after being ousted as Kinross's CEO for a deal gone awry.

Mr. Burt and Mr. Agro, the former M&A executive at Kinross, are now seeking financing for a potential bid on the Anglo assets, the sources said.

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Mr. Burt is one of many people who were given the opportunity to examine Anglo's Mantoverde, Mantos Blancos and El Soldado mines.

Others include former Xstrata PLC CEO Mick Davis, who now runs a private mining entity called X2 Resources LLP, sources said.

However, most have passed on Anglo's mines as they are not well regarded.

According to documents viewed by The Globe and Mail, Anglo spends around $2 (U.S.) to produce a pound of copper at Mantoverde and $2.20 at Mantos Blancos.

That excludes treatment and refining expenses, which could push production costs closer to $2.50 a pound. With the red metal trading around $2.50, Anglo is likely losing money on the mines.

Also, production at Mantoverde and Mantos Blancos has declined over the past five years. And although Anglo says the mines could continue producing metal for another 20 years, they can only do so if the new owner has capital to expand the mine.

Anglo is also selling its Chagres smelter in Chile, which it jointly owns with Codelco of Chile and Mitsubishi Corp. Its partners also own a non-controlling stake in El Soldado.

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The hurdle for Mr. Burt is financing. Investors are increasingly sour on the commodities industry, making it extremely difficult for anyone to raise funds.

Since 2011, gold is down 30 per cent, copper is off by 40 per cent and iron ore and metallurgical coal have both lost around 70 per cent of their value.

The hurdle for Mr. Davis is convincing his investors to support a deal. Mr. Davis has looked at nearly every mine that has come on the market, but either his offers were rejected as too low or his investors did not give him approval to bid, sources said.

Mr. Davis's firm has raised more than $5-billion in private capital. He has yet to deploy any of his funds.

Mr. Burt is one of a handful of former mining executives who have ventured out on their own since commodity prices plunged.

Aaron Regent started his own private mining firm after being kicked out as Barrick Gold Corp.'s chief executive. Mr. Regent has bought a niobium mine for half a billion dollars and has looked at the Anglo mines as well as Barrick's large Zaldivar copper mine in Chile, sources said.

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Mr. Burt was fired after spending $7.1-billion for a gold mine in West Africa. The operations have been mostly written down amid weak bullion prices.

Mr. Agro was in charge of looking for assets when he was at Kinross, the same position he held at the now defunct gold miner Placer Dome Inc.

Mr. Burt's firm did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for X2 Resources declined to comment. and Mr. Regent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Globe and Mail first reported the sale of the Anglo mines in September.

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