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Inmet Mining to evaluate First Quantum $5.17B bid

TORONTO (AP) -- Copper miner Inmet Mining Corp. said Monday that it has not yet received the unsolicited $5.17 billion takeover offer from First Quantum Minerals Ltd. announced over the weekend.

Inmet said in a statement it is urging shareholders not to take any action until it can evaluate the details and it would make no further comment until that assessment had been completed.

First Quantum said Sunday that it was offering $73.02 per Inmet share, half in cash, half in stock.

Inmet rejected an earlier hostile takeover offer from First Quantum in late November, which was worth $4.97 billion in stock and cash.

Inmet said at the time that the "highly conditional offer" was not in the best interest of its shareholders.

First Quantum also said that despite the rejection of its earlier bid, it had since been approached by a number of Inmet's key shareholders expressing interest in the potential for a combined company.

Vancouver-based First Quantum said combining the two companies "would create one of the world's leading and fastest growing copper producers," with the potential to produce more than 1.3 million tons of copper annually by 2018.

First Quantum also said it thought the combined company would be able to establish itself as a top five copper producer within five years.

"The enlarged group will draw on the best physical and human resources of both First Quantum and Inmet, to create a premier, widely-held base metals company with leading growth in copper production and cash flow generation," said First Quantum CEO and chairman Philip Pascall.

Inmet owns 80 percent of the Cobre Panama copper project through Minera Panama SA and the remainder is owned by Korea Panama Mining Corp. The total cost of Cobre Panama is estimated at $6.29 billion, including $1.42 billion to be funded by Korea Panama Mining and $4.87 billion through Inmet.

In addition to Cobre Panama, Inmet has mines in Turkey, Spain and Finland.

First Quantum has operations in Zambia, Mauritania and Australia.

The bid by First Quantum follows the sale of its operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kazakhstani miner Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. for $1.27 billion.

First Quantum had written off the value of the assets in 2010 after its operations in Congo were nationalized by the government of the mineral-rich central African country.

The company has said it will focus its efforts on Zambia where it has its flagship Kansanshi mine and is developing other projects including a new mine and smelter.