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Barrick Gold and fellow gold miner Goldcorp have teamed up to develop projects in Chile’s Atacama desert, the two companies announced.

The companies will set up a 50/50 joint venture to develop projects in Chile’s Maricunga gold belt in the north of the country and invest $520m into one of the world’s biggest undeveloped gold projects.

Structured in a series of transactions, Goldcorp agreed to buy a 25 per cent share in the Cerro Casale mine from Barrick and will also acquire a further stake from Kinross Gold. Goldcorp will also purchase two other adjacent exploration projects, the Caspiche and Quebrada Seca projects, both of which will be put into the joint venture.

The deal comes as gold miners look to spend on exploration after years of cutting budgets due to low gold prices.

“The joint venture with Barrick has the potential to allow us to consolidate infrastructure to reduce capital and operating costs, reduce the environmental footprint and provide increased returns compared to two standalone projects,” David Garofalo, chief executive of Goldcorp, said in reference to the Cerro Casale and Caspiche projects.

For the 25 cent Cerro Casale stake, Goldcorp will pay Barrick’s $260m share of expenditures on the project and will put in the same amount on its own, for a total investment commitment of $520m.

As part of the deal, Goldcorp has granted Barrick a 1.25 percent royalty interest on 25 percent of gross revenues from metal production from Cerro Casale and Quebrada Seca.

“This agreement will allow us to direct capital elsewhere in our portfolio, while ensuring shareholders retain exposure to the optionality associated with one of the largest undeveloped gold and copper deposits in the world,” said Kelvin Dushnisky, president of Barrick.

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