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Rio Tinto to grab 51% stake in Janice Lake copper-silver project

Burbridge Lake base camp for Janice Lake exploration. (Image courtesy of Forum Energy Metals.)

Rio Tinto Exploration Canada (RTEC) is set to become the majority owner of Forum Energy Metals’ (TSX-V: FMC) 100% owned Janice Lake copper-silver project in Saskatchewan, Canada, the Vancouver-based company said on Friday.

After spending C$14 million ($11m) in exploration at the asset, which exceeds the C$10 million ($7.9m) required to earn a 51% stake in the project, the mining giant has decided not to spend any further on surveying the property for the 2022 budget year, Forum said.

Rio Tinto is now due to pay Forum Energy C$100,000 in cash on or before May, 2022 to complete its 51% earn-in obligation, the Canadian miner said.

“Rio Tinto’s drilling and regional exploration has added tremendous value to the Janice Lake project, most notably at the Janice and Jansem targets where drilling has significantly expanded high grade copper mineralization,” Forum Energy CEO Rick Mazur said in the statement.

He added the company will focus on its uranium portfolio during the first quarter of 2022, which includes plans to begin drilling at Forum’s 100% owned Wollaston uranium property nearby the Orano and Cameco uranium mills, in the eastern Athabasca Basin.

Rio, which optioned the project in May 2019, had the choice to earn an 80% interest in Janice Lake by spending C$30 million in addition to making separate option payments to Forum Energy Metals and Transition Metals Corp.

The miner has drilled 39 holes on the property to date, totalling 10,033 metres on four targets: Jansem, Janice, Kaz and Rafuse. 

Located in north-central Saskatchewan within the Wollaston Domain, the Janice Lake project extends for 38,250 hectares.

Copper prices and other industrial metals slid on Friday as a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant found in South Africa shook market sentiment.