SA junior seeks to ramp-up Taung gem exploration

18th June 2001

Mining and exploration company Thabex Exploration has disposed of its 40% interest in Pioneer Minerals for a sum of R2,6-million in order to fund ongoing exploration of its subsidiary, Pure Diamonds, in the Taung district of South Africa’s North West Province.

The interest was sold to New Hope Mining. An amount of R3,5-million was also paid to Thabex, bringing to an end a dispute which arose from New Hope's acquisition of a 60% interest in Pioneer, which was not owned by Thabex. Pioneer explores for alluvial diamonds along the Orange River in the Prieska district of the Northern Cape Province. "We now have adequate cash on hand which we will use to fund ongoing exploration expenditure of our wholly-owned subsidiary, Pure Diamonds, in the Taung district of the North West Province along the Harts River, while also further strengthening the marketing of polished diamonds," says Thabex CEO Marius Welthagen. "The joint agreement with Falconbridge Ventures of Africa (FVA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Falconbridge of Canada, a leading low-cost producer of nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum-group metals, involves the exploration for and assessment of the mineral potential of our Potgietersrus Town and Townlands' prospecting rights. “In the event that the exploration on the Potgietersrus Platreef project proves successful, we plan to use a substantial portion of the cash generated through the disposal of Pioneer towards our required contribution to the joint venture with FVA," continues Welthagen. Should FVA proceed with a bankable feasibility study on the project after it has spent R5,2-million during an option period of three years, which started in October last year, Platinexco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thabex, will be required to contribute 49% of the cost of this phase or dilute to a 25% interest in the proposed joint venture. Thabex is also planning to pursue exploration opportunities in other African countries.