Sydney, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 12 March 2009 – Blackthorn Resources Limited – an Australian-based resources company with a diverse portfolio of African assets – has announced that BHP Billiton, its joint venture partner on the Mumbwa iron oxide copper gold project in Zambia – has formally elected to fully fund the next drilling phase of the project – now referred to as Phase 3B.
Revealing this in a statement here, the company said this election was technically earlier than required under the terms and conditions of the agreement, as the assay results from the Phase 3 drilling campaign completed by Blackthorn Resources had not yet been delivered in full.
It added that, having made this election, BHP Billiton now had full responsibility for managing and funding all activities associated with the project during this next phase to further assess the extent of mineralisation.
The statement pointed out that Blackthorn Resources had officially earned an additional 20% interest in the project, to take its level of ownership to 70%. However, in a concurrent transaction – and in accordance with the amended JV agreement – BHP Billiton had elected to pay Blackthorn Resources US$1.1 million (R11.5 million) to acquire back a 10% interest. Upon receipt of this payment, Blackthorn Resources will retain a 60% interest in the Mumbwa JV and BHP Billiton a 40% interest.
Managing director Scott Lowe commented: “While 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. Mumbwa has shown some very encouraging signs, and we consider the project to be a strategic asset within the Blackthorn Resources portfolio. We look forward to continuing to work closely with BHP Billiton as exploration work continues,” he added.