Mining major Rio Tinto and junior Raiden Resources will officially start exploration work in Serbia, after Rio completed its due diligence investigations.
Rio and Raiden in March this year inked a $31.5-million earn-in and joint venture agreement over Raiden’s project holding in Serbia.
The earn-in and JV agreement covers Raiden’s Zapadni Majdanpek, Majdanpek Pojas and Donje Nevlje exploration licences, which are all located within the Western Tethyan Metallogenic belt, which hosts a number of tier-one copper/gold porphyry deposits.
Under the terms of the agreement, Rio will spend an initial $2.5-million over the first three years to earn a 51% participating interest in the JV project area, with a minimum spend of $500 000 required within the first 12 months.
A further $9-million will be spent over the following three-year period, allocating Rio a further 14% interest, for a total participating interest of 65%. The major could then increase its shareholding to 75%, by spending a further $20-million over the following three years.
Raiden executive director Dusko Ljubojevic said on Thursday that the start of the JV was the first major step in a systematic exploration campaign on priority areas that have not been evaluated in detail in the past three decades.
“This is an exciting phase for Raiden and the broader Tethyan Belt, which has been demonstrated to be among the most highly endowed and under-explored copper/gold regions globally.
“Concurrently with the formation of the JV, Raiden will also commence exploration on its other assets in the coming months, which will provide a parallel strategy to the JV properties.”