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Inmet may be takeover target after big find

Inmet's Cobre Panama project

Inmet Mining's big Panamanian copper project is getting bigger, and that may put the company into the sights of acquirers.

Inmet on Tuesday announced a big copper find on the Balboa section of its Cobre Panama project, leading analyst Greg Barnes of TD Securities to write Wednesday that "if Balboa continues to expand at its current pace (and it is open down dip to the south), the increasing scale of the project could result in Inmet itself becoming a takeover target."

The Balboa findings could increase the amount of copper at Cobre Panama by as much as 28 per cent, Mr. Barnes said, making one of the biggest new known copper deposits even bigger.

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For Inmet , it must feel good to have Cobre Panama be the source of good news. During Inmet's attempt to merge with Lundin Mining Corp., bad news from Cobre Panama helped to scupper that deal.

An adverse ruling in Panama on Inmet's plan to power the Cobre Panama project raised the spectre of higher costs, and cast doubt over the merger proposal with Lundin. In the end, a lot more went wrong with the merger, starting with a hostile bid coming in for Lundin, but the power issue certainly didn't help.

Inmet and Lundin ended up calling off their plan to combine. Lundin was saved from hostile bidder Equinox Minerals when Equinox itself was snapped up by a hostile bidder. So both remain independent.

But for how long?

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