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Emerald looking to join hunt for gold

Australia's Emerald Resources will suspend share trading today as it looks to shift its focus from oil and gas exploration in the United States to gold exploration in Cambodia, the company said in a filing to the ASX.

Emerald announced yesterday it had executed a farm-in and joint venture agreement with ASX-listed Renaissance Minerals in which it stands to earn up to 51 per cent interest in Renaissance’s Okvau gold project in northeastern Cambodia.

In return, Emerald has pledged funds to cover a definitive feasibility study for development of the gold project to a bankable level, conduct an environmental and social impact assessment, and bankroll a two-year exploration program worth $3 million.

The February 3 agreement, approved by shareholders yesterday, remains contingent on Renaissance and Emerald obtaining all necessary approvals and permits from the Cambodian government.

“The proposed transaction with Renaissance will constitute a change in the nature and scale of activities from oil and gas in the United States to gold exploration and development in Cambodia,” Emerald said in a statement.

The shift in focus requires Emerald to obtain shareholder approval, and in accordance with ASX listing rules the company’s shares will remain suspended until this approval is granted, the company said, adding that it expects to be reinstated for trading in April.

Renaissance released a pre-feasibility study for the development of its Okvau project last July. The company estimates an initial capital expenditure of $120 million to produce about 91,500 ounces of gold per year over an eight-year mine life.

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