MRG Metals, an Australia-based mineral exploration company, has signed a binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Wickbury Investments to form a joint venture (JV) for a rare earth elements (REEs) project in Zimbabwe.

The MoU concerns a package of ten mining licences held by Wickbury, a Zimbabwe-based company that was formed to identify the Shawa carbonatite complex. As part of the MoU, MRG Metals has acquired exclusive rights to explore and develop all the commodities within the mining licences.

Wickbury will receive 20 million MRG shares as part of the first stage of the MoU signing.

After completing the due diligence process for second stage, a JV company will be formed as per the same MoU terms. In stages three and five, MRG will earn a right to earn up to an 80% stake in the JV.

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In stage three, MRG will have to spend at least $250,000 (A$396,356) to earn a 30% stake.

This will be followed by spending a further $250,000 in stage four to earn 51%, while in the fifth stage it will need to spend an additional $1.5m to own an 80% stake in the JV.

The Shawa carbonatite complex is mineralised with REEs including niobium and strontium.

Trench sampling at the Wickbury licences has recorded concentration of up to 2,186 parts per million. A historical gravity survey has also shown a depth extent of carbonatite at 500m.

Although very limited exploration has been conducted at the Wickbury licences, phosphate, vermiculite, magnetite and magnesite have been mapped at the location.

There is also potential for other mineralisation associated with carbonatites, including barite, calcium carbonate (CaCO3), copper, iron, nepheline, titanium and zirconium.

MRG chairman Andrew Van Der Zwan said: “We are delighted to gain access to these licences and look forward to working with Wickbury on-site with known resources, but also on ground yet to be explored for new critical minerals. Our entry price is extremely low risk and provides MRG with immediate access to make substantial progress this year with minimal expenditure.

“MRG is excited to have secured such an incredible package that potentially offers a company-making exploration target. Shortly, we will update the market on our initial exploration plans at Shawa, on what could be a giant multi-commodity exploration play with Rare Earth prioritisation. In Mozambique, we are also continuing to work with LANQI on progressing to joint venture status.”