The company signed a joint venture (JV) arrangement with Exco in May 2007 to earn the 80% stake.

In addition, Ivanhoe Australia invested directly in Exco and currently holds a 22.6% interest.

Under the terms of the JV, Ivanhoe was required to spend $5.5m on exploration work on the JV tenements to acquire the 80% stake.

To date, exploration work on the JV tenements has included a series of drilling campaigns and, more recently, has focussed on analysing existing and new geophysical data using improved processing and interpretation techniques.

The geophysical analysis will assist in the design of drilling programs to be conducted over the next 12 months, Ivanhoe said.

The JV tenements include 12 exploration permits for minerals with a total area of 540 sq km and one mining lease with an area of 0.04 sq km.