South32, Trilogy Metals to jointly develop Alaska project

Camp at the Bornite project, one of the two most advanced of Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects. (Image courtesy of Trilogy Metals.)

Australia’s South32 (ASX, LON:S32) and Canada’s Trilogy Metals (TSX, NYSE: TMQ) have agreed to become equal partners in their existing joint venture to develop copper-base metal projects in northern Alaska.

The new partnership structure comes as the Australian major exercised an option acquired in 2017 to buy a 50% interest in Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP), located in Alaska’s Ambler mining district.

The UKMP projects have a combined resource of 8 billion pounds of copper, 3 billion pounds of zinc and 1 million ounces of gold equivalent

The move, South32 said, will help it expand its portfolio in North America.

“Forming the UKMP Joint Venture will be another important milestone as we reshape and improve our portfolio, by adding high-quality copper and base metals development options,” South32’s chief executive officer, Graham Kerr, said in the statement

The partners will retain $87.5 million of the $145 million subscription payment to fund exploration plans. The rest will be loaned back to South32, which will be repaid in installments.

The UKMP projects have a combined resource of 8 billion pounds of copper, 3 billion pounds of zinc and 1 million ounces of gold equivalent.

The companies said they’ll complete a feasibility study on Arctic, one of the most advanced UKMP projects, during the first quarter of 2020.

The proposed mine is expected to produce more than 159 million pounds of copper, 199 million pounds of zinc, 33 million pounds of lead, 30,600 ounces of gold and 3.3 million ounces of silver over a 12-year mine life.

The assets still have vast exploration potential, which has been a key attraction for South32.

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