Rio Tinto has started drilling work at American Pacific Mining’s (APM) Madison copper-gold project in Montana, US, with the first diamond core drill having arrived on-site this week.

The original drill plan involved both diamond and reverse circular drilling.

However, the plan has been updated to include two diamond drills. The total programme will involve the drilling of up to 4,000m.

The fully permitted Madison mine is located in the heart of Montana’s prolific copper-gold belt southeast of the Butte Mining District.

Last year, American Pacific purchased all of the issued and outstanding shares of Broadway Gold, the owner of the Madison project, from Madison Metals.

The Madison Project is currently under an earn-in, joint venture agreement, whereby Rio Tinto unit Kennecott Exploration Company can spend $30m to earn up to 70% of the project.

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By GlobalData

American Pacific president Eric Saderholm said that the 2021 exploration programme at the Madison Project has entered the drilling phase.

Saderholm said: “This is the third year of exploration on the property by Rio Tinto/Kennecott Exploration. Numerous targets are planned to be drill-tested based on many factors, including geophysical surveys, the success of historic drilling, mapping, modelling and newly encountered surface geologic interpretations and expressions.

“This will be a dynamic exploration season at Madison.”

The Madison copper-gold project encompasses six patented lode claims and 136 unpatented mineral claims.

Developed between 2005 and 2011, the Madison mine generated 7,570oz of gold and 3,020,000lb of copper from bulk samples of 19,803t.