JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Global diversified-miner BHP Billiton will fully fund the next drilling phase of the Mumbwa project, in Zambia, joint-venture (JV) partner Blackthorn Resources said on Thursday.
The Australian company said that BHP Billiton would now have full responsibility for managing and funding all activities associated with the copper/gold project, during this next phase to assess the extend of the mineralisation.
MD Scott Lowe said that much work still remained to fully assess the potential of the Mumbwa project, and said the group was pleased that BHP had decided to fund the next drilling phase, which would be referred to as Phase 3B.
“The next phase of exploration is in good hands,” commented Lowe.
Meanwhile, Blackthorn Resources said that it had completed drilling on Phase 3, and that it had thereby increased its stake in Mumbwa to 70%.
However, in a concurrent transaction, BHP Billiton had elected to amend the JV agreement, and paid Blackthorn $1,1-million to buy a 10% stake.
Blackthorn would then retain a 60% stake, while BHP Billiton would own a 40% interest in Mumbwa.
“With the global financial crisis continues to impact on all aspects of the mining industry, exploration remains a critical part of the mining value chain for the industry’s long-term future,” Lowe stated.
He said Mumbwa had shown “very encouraging” signs.
Blackthorn, which recently changed its name from Aim Resources, also holds the Perkoa zinc mine, in Burkina Faso, and the Mokapane nickel/platinum project in South Africa.