TORONTO, May 14 (Reuters) - Petaquilla Copper Ltd (PTC.TO: Quote,Profile, Research), the smallest of the three Canadian companiesthat own the big Petaquilla copper deposit in Panama, said on Wednesday thatpartner Inmet Mining (IMN.TO: Quote,Profile, Research) will now manage the $3.5-billion project in orderto bring it to production on schedule.
The company also said it is in continuous discussions with majormining entities who may want to get involved in the project, followingPetaquilla Copper's announcement last month that it is seeking arbitration overTeck Cominco's (TCKb.TO: Quote,Profile, Research) involvement.
Currently, Petaquilla Copper owns 52 percent of the project and Inmet owns48 percent. Teck, the largest of the three, has the option to take half ofPetaquilla's share by agreeing to fund about half of the mine's development.
Petaquilla Copper said in April that Teck, the copper-and-zinc giant, hadnot met conditions necessary to exercise this option.
The arbitration proceedings have inevitably introduced an element ofuncertainty with respect to Inmet's proposed work plan for the project, PetaquillaCopper said on Wednesday.
It called the appointment of Inmet as project manager a key stepin bringing the 223,000 tonne-per-year project to production by 2013, asexpected.
Petaquilla Copper added it would approach Inmet with a strategy that wouldallow work to continue on the mine throughout arbitration proceedings.
Inmet has backed Teck in the arbitration dispute and said last month it isextremely disappointed in Petaquilla Copper for exposing the mineto development delays. ($1=$1.00 Canadian) (Reporting by Jonathan Spicer;Editing by Scott Anderson)
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