The option to earn-in agreement allows Rio Tinto to earn 65% interest in the mining assets, which cover around 34,494 acres of land


Lion CG, Rio Tinto partner to advance exploration at Nevada copper assets. (Credit: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay)

Canada-based Lion Copper and Gold (Lion CG) has teamed up with Rio Tinto to advance studies and exploration at its copper assets in Mason Valley, Nevada, US.

The companies have signed an option to earn-in agreement, pursuant to which Rio Tinto can earn 65% interest in the mining assets, which cover around 34,494 acres of land.

The assets include the historic Yerington mine, greenfield MacArthur Project, Wassuk property, the Bear deposit, and related water rights, in exchange for staged payments.

In the Stage 1, Rio Tinto will pay up to $4m for an exclusive earn-in option and agreed-upon Mason Valley study and evaluation works by Lion CG, before this year-end.

The company can choose to proceed with Stage 2 after 45 days from completion of Stage 1, by paying up to $5m for agreed-upon Mason Valley study and evaluation works.

After 60 days from the completion of Stage 2, Rio Tinto can enter the Stage 3, by funding a Feasibility Study (FS) based on the results of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 works.

Upon completion of the FS, the two companies decide on creating an investment vehicle for transferring mining assets, in which Rio Tinto will have not less than 65% stake.

In case of Rio Tinto rejects the formation of the investment vehicle, it would receive a 1.5% net smelter returns royalty (NSR) on the mining assets.

Lion Copper and Gold CEO Travis Naugle said: “The agreement offers the potential to both increase the scope and scale of our development and accelerate the path to first production. As stewards of significant copper resources and water rights in the State of Nevada, we recognize our role in a sustainable and circular economy.

“Should Rio Tinto exercise its earn-in option, we are confident that it will bring its own level of quality to progress the development of the Mining Assets towards becoming a strategic domestic copper producer with the highest ESG standards and performance.”

Rio Tinto will assess the potential commercial deployment of Nuton, a portfolio of its unique copper leach related technologies, at the site.

Nuton technology is said to enhance copper recovery from mined ore, access new sources of copper and reprocessing of stockpiles and mineralised waste.

Also, the technologies would enable effective water usage, reduce carbon emissions, and offers the ability to reclaim mine sites by reprocessing waste.

Rio Tinto Copper chief executive Bold Baatar said: “This Agreement will allow us to explore the potential commercial deployment of our Nuton copper leaching technologies in a historical mining district with a large copper endowment.

“These technologies not only offer Rio Tinto the potential to unlock additional copper, but to also deliver low carbon production with significant environmental benefits through reprocessing old stockpiles and tailings, and reducing waste from new and ongoing operations.”