Rio Tinto begins exploration programme at Midnight Sun’s Zambian copper licences

TSXV-listed exploration outfit Midnight Sun Mining has announced that Rio Tinto has commenced a US$3.2 million exploration programme at its Solwezi copper licences in Zambia, as part of the US$51 million earn-in agreement the two parties signed last year.

Rio’s initial 2021 programme at Solwezi is expected to include drilling at the Mitu trend, testing anomalies at the Gameno prospect and drilling and mapping at Dumbwa. The world’s second largest miner can earn up to 75% of the project, based on incremental exploration commitments.

The initial work programme will run to late June, with the results to dictate additional budgets for the year. “After a lengthy rainy season and dealing with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited for Rio Tinto to begin the 2021 work programme,” Midnight Sun president and CEO Al Fabbro said.

“With the bulk of this initial budget committed to drilling, this has the potential to be a very pivotal season for Midnight Sun and the Solwezi licences,” he continued.

The Solwezi licences are located adjacent to First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine – Africa’s largest copper mining complex – in the Zambian Copperbelt.

In a separate statement, Rio highlighted its ongoing exploration focus on copper, after the base metal reached a nine year high recently on the back of strong demand in China and tightening supply-demand dynamics.