Rio Tinto and Chinalco plan to establish a joint venture to explore mainland China for world-class mineral deposits. The companies intend to select between three and five large-area exploration projects for initial focus, with the potential for additional regions to be added at a later date. The joint venture company is expected to come into operation in the first half of 2011. Chinalco will hold a 51% interest in the company and will nominate the chairman of its five-member board. Rio Tinto will appoint the chief executive and will hold a 49% interest.

The companies anticipate Chinalco’s expertise and understanding of the Chinese environment will complement Rio Tinto’s technologies and experience in operating global mining projects. “The combination of skills provided by Rio Tinto and Chinalco offers great potential to unlock value for mutual benefit,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese said at a signing ceremony in Beijing in early December 2010. (

Anglo American’s exploration team will receive the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s Thayer Lindsley Award for the Los Sulfatos copper discovery in Chile. In July 2009, Anglo American announced the results of exploration drilling programs that demonstrated the existence of a world-class copper deposit at Los Sulfatos, with an inferred resource of 1.2 billion mt grading 1.46% copper and 0.02% molybdenum, containing an estimated 17.5 million mt of copper (E&MJ, October 2009, p. 26). The deposit is open in various directions and in terms of overall potential is expected to yield between 4 billion and 5 billion mt at grades of between 0.8% and 1.0% copper. The Los Sulfatos project is located approximately 6 km south of Anglo American’s Los Bronces copper mine in central Chile.

The Los Sulfatos exploration team recognized by the award includes Graham Brown, group head of geosciences and exploration, London, UK; Vicente Irarrazaval, regional head of exploration-Andes, Santiago, Chile; Juan Carlos Toro, principal geologist, Santiago, Chile; Graeme Lyall, manager advanced projects and near mine exploration, Santiago, Chile; and William Robles, senior geologist, Santiago, Chile. Credit is also given to Alan Wilson, Raúl Tarnovschi, Esme Tristram, Cristian Spröhnle, Marcial Pablo, José Astudillo and Luis Vasquez. (

Newmont Gold has signed an earn-in agreement with Renaissance Gold (RenGold) whereby Newmont has the right to earn a 70% interest in RenGold’s Wildcat property in Juab county, Utah. The property contains a Carlin-like, sediment-hosted epithermal gold system. Newmont can earn the 70% interest by spending a minimum of $4.1 million and completing a bankable feasibility study within seven years of signing the agreement. Newmont also has the election to extend the date by which the study must be completed by spending $1 million and paying RenGold $100,000 per year until the study is completed or the option agreement is terminated. Newmont is obligated to expend $100,000 during the first year of the agreement and will be operator of the project. (

Greenland Minerals and Energy received approval from the government of Greenland to fully evaluate its Kvanefjeld multi-element project near the southern tip of Greenland, inclusive of radioactive elements. The Kvanefjeld deposit is enriched in rare earth elements, uranium and zinc, and is reported by Greenland Minerals to contain the world’s largest resource of rare earth elements.

Greenland Minerals is the first company in Greenland to receive permitting for the evaluation of a project that includes uranium. During 2011, the company plans to complete a pre-feasibility study currently in progress before initiating a definitive feasibility study during the second half of the year. The results of the company’s 2010 exploration program will be finalized and announced early this year. (