African Aura Mining has announced that its Putu iron ore project in eastern Liberia will enter a pre-feasibility stage, with an intensive 60,000m resource expansion drilling project scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2010.

The Putu project, a joint venture between African Aura and Severstal Resources, is a 12km-long iron-rich ridge, located 120km inland from the deepwater shoreline of eastern Liberia.

African Aura president and CEO Luis da Silva said a further significant development for the project has been the agreement in principal of the key commercial and fiscal terms of the 25-year mineral development agreement with the Government of Liberia.

“The joint venture company has met the target of a 43-101 compliant resource of at least one billion tons and is now expecting a significantly larger resource,” Silva said.

“Data from the ground and airborne geophysical surveys is currently guiding the next phase of drilling (circa 60,000m) with metallurgical test work being undertaken in parallel.

“Preparation of support infrastructure for this drilling programme, including construction of a new exploration camp, establishment of new access roads and the expansion of the project team with largely Liberian professionals is also well underway.”

Upon the completion of a pre-feasibility study during 2012, the resource expansion project will begin a definitive feasibility study which will run for 18 months.