Goldfields miners awarded mineral exploration rights in Timor-Leste’s inaugural tender
Two Goldfields miners are among four companies awarded rights to explore for minerals as the small island nation of Timor-Leste prepares to start a mining industry.
The country’s ministry of petroleum and mineral resources last week announced the four winning bidders of the Timor-Leste Minerals Tender 2023 — the first such public offer of its type.
Chris Daws-led Estrella Resources and Graham McGarry-led Beacon Minerals were two of the successful companies — the others being Peak Everest Mining and Melbourne-based Iron Fortune.
The Timor-Leste Government awarded 13 concession areas to the four companies — Estrella has three, and Beacon six.
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Estrella told the ASX on Monday its three mining concessions covered 121.5sqkm, and were in the north-east of the country in the Lautém municipality.
“High-grade manganese has been observed on surface within the concessions during recent field trips by the company (and) the areas have had little to no modern exploration undertaken,” Estrella said.
Mr McGarry said Beacon’s six concession areas comprised 294sqkm prospective for copper, and was a reward for the company’s persistence and investment since 2016.
Estrella said it had entered a memorandum of understanding with Murak Rai Timor, the government’s national mining company set up in September, to jointly explore and develop the concessions for the benefit of both Estrella and the people of Timor-Leste.
The company said the venture into the island nation to the north of Australia had the potential to add significant value to its existing asset suite, which included its Goldfields nickel projects.
Estrella said Mr Daws had spent the past 14 years cultivating relationships within Timor-Leste in anticipation of the passing of legislation enabling a new mineral exploration and development industry in the country.
Mr Daws said Timor-Leste’s awarding of mineral rights was an “extremely positive step forward” for it and Estrella.
“Timor-Leste is a highly prospective country that has little to no modern exploration undertaken within its borders,” he said.
“Estrella’s management have seen first-hand the mineral prospectivity during numerous trips to the country and within the concession areas that we have now been granted the opportunity to explore.
“The ability for Estrella to now set up a new exploration front for its shareholders in a welcoming country on Australia’s doorstep — serviced daily with modern commercial jetliners 85 minutes from Darwin and in a safe and secure social environment — as a ‘first-mover’ is outstanding.
“We look forward in working closely with our partners, Murak Rai Timor, Timor-Leste Government and Lautém communities to build a new and vibrant minerals industry.
“We expect to be on the ground and talking directly with our partners and the communities in the coming months as we develop exploration programs.”
Timor-Leste’s petroleum and mineral resources minister Francisco Monteiro told official state news agency Tatoli the awarding of the concessions marked the first time the country had begun a process of extracting mineral resources.
“Preliminary explorations will last 2-3 years in order to identify the mineral resources in the area before proceeding with extraction,” he said.
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