Australian junior companies Intrepid Mines and Blackthorn Resources announced on August 28 an agreement to merge their companies in an all-share transaction that will have Intrepid and Blackthorn shareholders holding approximately 52% and 48%, respectively, of the merged company, which will retain the “Intrepid Mines” name.

The merged company’s key assets will be Blackthorn’s Kitumba copper project in west-central Zambia and $A80 million in cash from Intrepid, which will be used to advance the Kitumba project. The Kitumba deposit is recognized as having iron oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) affinities, and its geological setting displays characteristics similar to other IOCG deposits, including Olympic Dam in South Australia.

In April, Blackthorn reported JORC-compliant proven and probable mineral reserves at Kitumba of 31.5 million mt grading 2.04% copper for a total of 641,000 mt of contained copper. An optimized prefeasibility study suggested the potential for an underground mine producing an average of 58,000 mt/y of copper in concentrates over a mine life of 11 years.

Planning and budgeting for a definitive feasibility study of the Kitumba project is currently in progress, with a view to starting construction in early 2016. Blackthorn has also identified a series of attractive additional exploration targets over the previously underexplored near-Kitumba area, as well as in its wider Mumbwa project license areas.