(Bloomberg) -- Executives at Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd. began talking more than two years ago about combining in what is being described as a C$13.4 billion ($10.6 billion) “merger of equals” between the Toronto-based miners.

“We’re essentially creating a Canadian mining champion,” Agnico’s Chief Executive Officer Sean Boyd said Tuesday during a television interview with BNN Bloomberg.

Agnico agreed to combine with Kirkland in an all-stock deal to create one of the top gold producers in the world, with mines and assets in Canada, Australia, Finland and Mexico and expected production of 3.4 million ounces of gold this year. Boyd and his Kirkland counterpart, Tony Makuch, commented on synergy gains and an investor call that drove the deal.

“You create more value by being able to combine assets or thinking in regions and not competing for people,” Makuch said in the interview, adding that added strength will also help with exploration development. “This helps us to transform the industry and really demonstrate leadership.”

Boyd said the combination creates an “extremely strong” company financially, with a pipeline that sets up the business for the next 10 to 20 years.

“This has been about unlocking value,” said Boyd.

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