Rio Tinto unit Kennecott Exploration (KEX) has started drilling work on the Copper Gulch prospect at the Alderan Resources-owned Frisco copper-gold-silver project in Utah, US.

According to the deal signed with Alderan Resources in 2019, Kennecott has the right to earn up to 70% of the project by spending $30m in phases on exploration over ten years.

Under the first stage, Kennecott is required to invest $6m by November 2023 to earn a 55% stake in the project.

The Copper Gulch prospect is located 500m south-west of the historical Cactus copper mine.

The drilling follows the completion of processing and modelling drone (UAV) magnetic data and validation of elevated copper in historical rock samples.

Kennecott’s objective at the Frisco project includes porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum deposits.

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Alderan managing director Scott Caithness said: “Copper Gulch is an excellent porphyry copper target only 500m south-west of the copper-rich tourmaline breccias at Cactus.

“Depth slices through the modelled magnetics indicate that the anomaly becomes more prominent at depth with a classic high magnetic core ringed by a magnetic low zone.

“It is further enhanced by anomalous copper in historical surface rock sampling, porphyry-style phyllic and potassic alteration plus pyrite, chalcopyrite and molybdenite mineralisation in peripheral historical holes. The anomaly itself has never been previously drilled.

“Kennecott’s exploration at Frisco has delivered a high potential large scale porphyry target in a copper-rich environment. It will be exciting to see the core as the hole progresses.”

KEX is planning to complete the first 500m drill hole in July with assays anticipated by early Q4 2022.

The Frisco project comprises several historical copper-gold and lead-zinc-silver mines including the Horn Silver mine and the Cactus and Imperial copper mines.