PERTH (miningweekly.com) − Uranium developer Toro Energy has agreed to Northern Minerals exploring for non-uranium minerals on seven of its tenements in the Northern Territory, with a focus on heavy rare-earth elements.
The ASX-listed rare-earth element explorer would spend A$4-million on exploration within a three-year period, to earn a 51% interest in the project area. Northern Minerals would then have the option to increase its stake to 70%, by spending another A$2-million over the following two years.
The company would also have the option to complete a bankable or definitive feasibility study, and lift its equity position in the non-uranium minerals to 80%, should Toro choose not to contribute to the study.
Northern Minerals would focus on the heavy rare-earth element prospectivity as part of its Browns Range project, while Toro would retain 100% of all uranium rights throughout the joint venture.
Northern Minerals MD George Bauk said the agreement followed significant exploration success in the region, and the completion of the company’s heavy rare-earth element expansion strategy.
“During the past 12 months, Northern Minerals has significantly grown its heavy rare-earth element and other mineral interests in the region, including entering into an option to acquire the John Galt project, near Halls Creek, and the reacquisition of non-uranium mineral rights from Areva in the Gardiner-Tanami project, and the acquisition of Ferrum Crescent’s Northern Territory Gardiner-Tanami tenements,” said Bauk.
He added that the agreement with Toro would give the company a dominant position in the region, complement its strategy to expand its rare-earth portfolio and bolster the already expanding potential of its Brown Range rare-earth element project.
“Our aim is to start a strategic exploration programme across the tenements as soon as possible, and test whether the geological setting identified at Browns Range continues into the Northern Territory.”
Exploration was expected to get under way in 2012, and would start with an airborne survey over the tenements.