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Rio signs $51 million earn-in on Zambia copper deposits

Mining - Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO) has entered into an earn-in and joint venture agreement with Vancouver-based junior Midnight Sun Mining (TSXV: MMA), under which the Anglo-Australian miner can earn up to a 75% interest in the latter’s Solwezi licenses.

The Solwezi licenses comprise two individual exploration licenses totalling 506 square kilometres (195 square miles) situated in the North-Western Province of Zambia, adjacent to First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi mine — Africa’s largest copper mining complex and one of the world’s biggest copper producers.

Other notable copper operations in the region include the Sentinel mine, also owned by First Quantum, and Barrick Gold’s Lumwana mine.

As part of the agreement, Rio Tinto will make an initial payment of $700,000 to Midnight Sun, as well as fund an initial work program on the Solwezi licenses by spending $3 million, of which $2 million is a firm commitment, within the next two field seasons.

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