UK-based metals exploration company Arc Minerals has announced the fulfilment of most of the regulatory conditions for its joint venture (JV) with a unit of Anglo American, with respect to copper interests in Zambia.

The share subscription in the JV has also been concluded, with Anglo American picking a 70% stake.

Unico Minerals, which is part of Arc Minerals, has acquired the remaining 30% stake.

Arc Minerals owns 67% of Unico Minerals while the remaining 33% interest is held by Kopara Investments.

Drilling at one of the key JV licences has already begun.

The JV deal will be unconditional once some minor procedural conditions are met, which is anticipated in the coming two weeks.

Arc announced plans for the JV with Anglo American in May 2022, under which the latter would have a 70% stake in the JV in return for up to $88.5m in aggregate investment, including up to $14.5m in cash.

The two parties signed the binding JV deal in April 2023.

Arc Minerals executive chairman Nick von Schirnding said: “This marks a major turning point for Arc and our shareholders. I am delighted that we have now satisfied the substantive regulatory conditions precedent to completing the JVA [joint venture agreement] and that the joint venture drilling campaign led by our partners, Anglo American, has commenced.”

Zambia Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Paul Kabuswe said: “I am very pleased with the progress that has been made in forming the joint venture between Anglo American and Arc Minerals. Anglo American’s commitment to a significant exploration programme in the north-west province is most welcome.

“As the New Dawn government under the leadership of His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema, we have been relentlessly focused on revitalising the country’s economy and ensuring that the Zambian people will benefit and transform their lives by having significant foreign and local investment. I look forward to following the progress in the months and years ahead as this venture aims to unlock further mineral wealth in our country.”

Located in the north-western province in Zambia, Arc’s licences are situated in the Domes region of the country’s Copperbelt.

It is next to several mines such as First Quantum Minerals’ Sentinel and Kansanshi copper mines and Barrick’s Lumwana mine.

Arc has so far carried out nearly 22,000m of drilling, collected and analysed up to 75,000 soil samples, and has also flown approximately 5,700 line kilometres of airborne geophysical surveys across all the areas under its licence.