Rio Tinto Exploration may obtain 80% of the joint venture, by spending A$3m ($2m) for exploration in five years and completing a minimum of 3,000m of reverse circulation (RC) or diamond drilling at the project


Prospect areas at the Harbutt Range Project. (Credit: TechGen Metals Limited)

Rio Tinto, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Rio Tinto Exploration, has signed a binding term sheet with TechGen Metals, to farm-in to the latter’s Harbutt Range project.

As per the binding term sheet, Rio Tinto Exploration may own 80% of the joint venture, in exchange for spending A$3m ($2m) for exploration within five years.

Rio Tinto Exploration is also responsible for completing a minimum of 3,000m of reverse circulation (RC) or diamond drilling at the project.

It can withdraw from the farm-in and JV at any stage after achieving a minimum expenditure of A$250,000 before 31 December 2023, without retaining any stake in the project.

Furthermore, if TechGen’s stake falls below 10%, Rio will have a right to buy out or the interest will convert to a 0.5% NSR Royalty on the first eight years of commercial production.

TechGen managing director Ashley Hood said: “We are delighted to have such a quality exploration partner at the Company’s Harbutt Range Project and this Farm-In and Joint Venture with Rio Tinto Exploration enables the company to additionally focus and spend our exploration funds on our other up-and- coming gold and copper drilling campaigns.

“The Paterson Orogen is host to a number of world-class operating mines, Nifty Copper Mine & Telfer Gold- Copper Mine, and more recent significant new discoveries including the Winu Copper-Gold Deposit (Rio Tinto) and Havieron Gold-Copper Deposit (Greatland / Newcrest).

“Given the experience of the Rio Tinto Exploration teams currently operating in the Paterson region, we are excited by the opportunity that this Farm-In and Joint Venture presents to our shareholders and look forward to working with our new partners.”

The Harbutt Range project is located 1,200km northeast of Perth in the south Paterson Province Western Australia.

The project lies within the Rudall Complex of the Proterozoic-aged Paterson Orogen.

It contains several geophysical and geochemical anomalies that indicate potential target areas for further exploration and drilling, said Rio Tinto.

The Harbutt Range project hosts exploration licences E45/5294 and E45/5439, which cover a combined area of 376km2.

It is prospective for several mineralisation styles including intrusive related copper-gold and sediment-hosted copper-lead–zinc–silver mineralisation, said TechGen.

The project hosts Electromagnetic related prospects including Kaos, Control, Maxwell, El Gringo, Roulette & San Pedro, and induced polarisation chargeability-related prospects Ninety-Nine & Anomaly A to E.