Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO ASX:RIO) has commenced drilling at the Madison copper-gold project in Montana, with the first diamond core drill arriving on site this week and drilling the first targets. The property is currently held by junior miner American Pacific Mining Corp (CSE: USGD).
In 2019, Rio subsidiary Kennecott Exploration Company entered an earn-in with an option to joint venture agreement on the Madison property, under which it may spend $30 million to earn up to 70% interest in the project.
Since then, Rio said it has identified numerous targets during its two-plus years of exploration. These are planned to be drill-tested based on many factors including geophysical surveys, the success of historic drilling, mapping, modeling, and newly encountered surface geologic interpretations and expressions.
The original drill plan called for both diamond drilling and reverse circular drilling, but has now been updated to accommodate two diamond drills. The total program will consist of up to 4,000 metres of drilling.
The Madison property is located near Silver Star, Montana, about 38 km southeast of the renowned Butte Mining District. The project consists of 136 unpatented and 6 patented claims, covering 2,514 acres of land.
Shares of American Pacific dropped 7.4% by noon ET Thursday following news of Rio’s drilling. The company has a market capitalization of C$16.5 million.