Australian mineral prospector Minotaur Exploration Ltd. (>> Minotaur Exploration Limited) said Monday that it has reached an agreement to sell five exploration tenements near BHP Billiton Ltd.'s (BHP) Olympic Dam operation to the mining giant for A$10 million and BHP's interest in another exploration asset.
BHP will buy the five plots in the Gawler Craton geological zone, where copper-gold-uranium deposits including Olympic Dam have been discovered, for cash plus its 41% interest in the Bonython Hill joint venture with Minotaur, Adelaide-based Minotaur said in a statement.
BHP is expected to make a decision this year on whether to proceed with an expansion at Olympic Dam, a project analysts have estimated could cost close to US$30 billion. The company has been working on plans to develop an open-pit mine alongside existing underground operations to sharply increase production of copper over the next 30 years, as well as the output of uranium, gold and silver.
-By Robb M. Stewart, Dow Jones Newswires; +61 3 9292 2094; [email protected]