Rio Tinto Exploration Canada is set to earn a 51% stake in the Janice Lake project in Canada from Forum Energy Metals having spent C$14m ($11m) in exploration expenditures.

The amount spent by the Rio Tinto unit has surpassed the C$10m ($7.9m) needed to earn a majority stake in the copper/silver project in Saskatchewan.

The earn-in obligation will be completed after Forum Energy Metals gets a cash payment of C$100,000 ($78,505) from Rio Tinto on or before May 2022.

Forum Energy Metals revealed that Rio Tinto does not intend to undertake an exploration programme at the Janice Lake project for the 2022 budget year.

Rio Tinto also has an option to earn an additional 29% stake in the copper/silver project by spending another C$20m ($15.7m) in exploration over three years and paying C$150,000 ($117,757.5) in cash to Forum Energy Metals.

So far, Rio Tinto Exploration Canada is said to have drilled 39 holes on the Janice Lake project, totalling 10,033m. The drilling was done on the Jansem, Kaz, Janice, and Rafuse targets.

Forum Energy Metals said that widespread geophysical, geological, and geochemical surveys over the 52km extent of the Wollaston Sedimentary Copperbelt have identified new areas for prospective copper mineralisation.

Forum Energy Metals president and CEO Rick Mazur said: “Rio Tinto’s C$14 million in drilling and regional exploration has added tremendous value to the Janice Lake project, most notably at the Janice and Jansem targets where drilling has significantly expanded high grade copper mineralisation.

“Forum’s diversified energy metals portfolio will focus on our extensive uranium property portfolio in Q1 2022, including plans to begin drilling at our 100% owned Wollaston uranium property nearby the Orano and Cameco uranium mills in the eastern Athabasca Basin.”

According to the company, prospecting has identified copper boulders as high as 3.8% copper and 3.7 g/t silver, located 25-30km to the southwest of the Janice and Jansem targets.