Rio Tinto Exploration Canada (RTEC) has fulfilled a condition to acquire a 51% stake in Janice Lake copper-silver project in Saskatchewan, Canada, from Forum Energy Metals.

The Canadian subsidiary of mining company Rio Tinto has spent $11m (C$14m) for exploration at the project.

This expenditure surpasses the amount needed to take the controlling interest in the project.

In 2019, Rio Tinto Canada was granted a four-year option to purchase a 51% stake in the project by spending $10m in exploration, as well as paying $490,000 in cash and $200,000 in underlying third-party cash.

Rio also has an option to acquire another 29% stake by investing an additional $20m in exploration expenditure over three years and paying a further $150,000 to Forum.

Rio Tinto, however, has now decided not to make an additional investment in surveying the property, according to Forum Energy.

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The miner will make a cash payment of $78,183.5 (C$100,000) to Forum Energy on or before May 2022 in order to fulfil the earn-in obligation.

Forum Energy CEO Rick Mazur 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 mineralisation.”

During the first quarter of 2022, Forum plans to focus on its uranium portfolio, which will include commencing of drilling at its 100%-owned Wollaston uranium property nearby the Orano and Cameco uranium mills, in the eastern Athabasca Basin.

Rio Tinto has so far drilled 39 holes on the property on four targets, namely Jansem, Janice, Kaz and Rafuse.

Covering 39,943ha, including the entire 52km Wollaston Copperbelt District, the Janice Lake project is located in north-central Saskatchewan.

Over the 52km extent of the copperbelt, the firm completed extensive geophysical, geochemical, and geological surveys. It has identified new areas for potential copper mineralisation.