Rio Tinto has formed an exploration partnership in Serbia with ASX-listed junior Raiden Resources.
The earn-in and JV agreement covers Raiden’s Zapadni Majdanpek, Majdanpek Pojas and Donje Nevlje exploration licences within the Western Tethyan Metallogenic Belt in Eastern Europe, which hosts numerous tier one copper-gold porphyry and associated mineral deposits.
Rio has secured an option to spend up to $US31.5 million ($40.1 million) over three stages to earn up to a 75 per cent interest in the licences.
The major miner will be appointed JV manager and will fund the project until the earlier of: the date it elects not to continue with an earn-in stage; the end of the earn-in period; and termination of the agreement.
Raiden executive director Dusko Ljubojevic said Rio provided the funding capacity to unlock the potential of the Serbian projects.
“In our opinion, this validates the prospectivity of our licences and we look forward to working closely with the Rio team and realising the potential of the JV properties,” Ljubojevic said.
“It also enables us to focus on exploration in our retained licences to rapidly deploy our planned exploration program.”
Raiden plans to launch exploration during the first half of 2018 at the four projects it retains.
The agreement boosts Rio’s presence in Serbia. The miner also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Serbian Government for the development of the Jadar lithium-borate project in July last year.