Mining major BHP has signed an option agreement for Encounter Resources’ Elliott copper project in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Following the completion of the earn-in, a 75-25 joint venture (JV) is planned to be formed and the two companies will contribute funds based on their percentage interest.

Located at a major structural intersection on the southwestern margin of the Beetaloo Basin, the Elliott project comprises seven tenements covering an area of over 4,500km2.

The Elliott project was identified by Encounter following analyses of new datasets generated by Geoscience Australia as part of the Australian Government’s ‘Exploring for the Future’ programme.

Encounter managing director Will Robinson said: “New data has shone a light on the potential for copper to be found under shallow cover in the Northern Territory. Encounter moved early and aggressively to secure first mover opportunities in this new frontier.

“We are delighted to be teaming up with BHP in the search for Tier 1 copper deposits at Elliott. We look forward to working alongside the highly respected BHP exploration team to validate this compelling opportunity.”

By the end of this year, the two parties plan to undertake a compilation, interpretation and modelling programme of the Elliott data packages.

Upon completion of this programme, BHP will have the option to fund additional programmes throughout 2021 and decide on the JV agreement with Encounter Resources.

Encounter also owns five other copper projects in the Northern Territory including the Jessica, Carrara, Playford as well as Sandover projects.

Recently, BHP confirmed that it will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its operations by up to 30% by 2030, adding that it will continue to “thrive” under net zero emissions in the future.