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Mining company South32 has signed a strategic alliance agreement with AusQuest to advance potential exploration opportunities in Australia and Peru. 

Under the agreement, AusQuest will conduct exploratory work in agreed jurisdictions to identify and secure prospective early stage exploration opportunities. The exploration will be funded by South32.

After exploration, South32 will exclusively have the option to enter joint ventures for projects progressed to drilling state.

South32 chief executive officer Graham Kerr said: “We are looking forward to working with AusQuest on potential opportunities to generate low-cost entry points for early stage exploration, outside our existing portfolio.”

South32 will have the option to own 70% of the joint venture by investing $4m in this exploration. The company can also earn an additional 10% interest by funding the project to pre-feasibility level.

The exploration campaign will target copper, zinc and nickel.

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"We are looking forward to working with AusQuest on potential opportunities to generate low-cost entry points for early stage exploration."

Currently, the alliance has selected five projects that will be advanced as potential opportunities. Three of these projects are located in Australia, while the remaining two are in Peru. 

One of the selected projects is a base metal mine located in Western Australia that is already in a drill ready stage.

Both companies have entered a joint venture agreement for this project.

The Peruvian projects are copper mines, while the other Australian opportunities are nickel and copper projects.

South32 operates multiple mining projects in Australia, Southern Africa and South America.

Image: The Worsley Alumina project in Australia. Photo: courtesy of South32.