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OZ Minerals looks to large gold find in 2010

091201_07
A worker responds to a two-way radio message at the OZ Minerals Ltd Prominent Hill mine in South Australia. The firm said Monday that much of Cambodia’s mineral wealth remains undiscovered. BLOOMBERG

Australian miner plans to net at least 2 million ounces of gold at its east Cambodia concessions by end of next year

We plan to make an announcement on Okvao ... by the first quarter next year.

OZ Minerals Limited announced plans aimed at identifying at least 2 million ounces of gold at its Cambodian concessions by the end of 2010 in an online conference Monday.

“We are going very hard on five projects [in Cambodia] to see whether that can come forward,” Tony Houston, head of exploration of the Victoria, Australia-based miner, said at the conference.

OZ Minerals has recently refocused on gold and copper mining in Australia and Southeast Asia following the June sale of US$1.35 billion of its zinc mines to China Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Co to pay off outstanding debts.

Having operated in eastern Cambodia for over three years, the firm handles four gold concessions and one copper property. OZ has completed most exploratory work at its Okvao gold tenement in Mondulkiri province, where it has completed resource drilling and geological modelling is already under way, said Houston.

“By the end of 2010 we aim to be in a position where we can identify strong potential for over 2 million ounces, and the longer term we’re looking for more, for over 3 million ounces,” he said. “We plan to make an announcement on Okvao on resource and inferred resource by the first quarter next year.”

Only preliminary work has been carried out at the firm’s other Cambodian sites, but early results show potential, he added.

“Cambodia is completely unexplored, and it is one where there are continual surprises as you go out into the bush and start doing your detailed work,” Houston said, adding that OZ Minerals is also actively searching for opportunities in Thailand and Laos.

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company closed up 3.3 percent on Monday to A$1.12 (US$1.02). The stock fell 7.09 percent last week but has gradually climbed from a low of A$0.37 earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the government announced Monday that it had licensed an unnamed private overseas company to explore for gold in the Barsub Trub area east of Banteay Chhmar temple in Banteay Meanchey province.

Minister of Finance Keat Chhon told the National Assembly Monday that the licence had already been issued on the area, which has been the subject of geological study for some time, he added.

“We hope to gain some income from this gold mining as gold prices on [world] markets are very high at the moment,” he said.

According to a report Keat Chhon showed to the National Assembly, studies from Barsub Trub indicated that roughly 5 grams of gold could be mined from 1 tonne of soil.

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