Encounter Resources offers BHP 75% stake in Elliot Copper project

FILE PHOTO: A tonne of nickel powder made by BHP Group sits in a warehouse at its Nickel West division, south of Perth, Australia August 2, 2019. Picture taken August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Melanie Burton

(Reuters) - Encounter Resources ENR.AX said on Thursday it signed an option pact with BHP Group BHP.AX to give the global miner a stake of up to 75% in its Elliot Copper project after completion of a joint validation programme.

BHP and Encounter will complete the initial validation of the Elliot project, sprawling over 4,500 sq km (1,737 sq miles) in Australia’s Northern Territory, by the end of December, the gold and copper miner said.

BHP would need to spend up to A$22 million ($16 million) for exploration within 10 years at Elliot if it decided to take a stake in the project, Encounter said.

It added that BHP could elect for further validation programmes next year before deciding whether to exercise its option and enter an earn-in joint venture with Encounter.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez