Ivanhoe Australia is strengthening its gold exposure in Australia by taking up a strategic investment in junior explorer Emmerson Resources Ltd (ASX: ERM) which holds a substantial exploration holding in the Tennant Creek goldfield of central Australia.

Early this year Ivanhoe Australia began clipping its exploration budget in line with market sentiments in Australia. However, more recent reporting by Ivanhoe Australia indicates it is rebuilding momentum, given that it had to December quarter reporting still $A57.6m ($US41.98m) in its coffers.

The company was spun out of Ivanhoe Mines in August 2008 after raising about $A125m ($US90m) as a $A2 stock (a share price it is yet to achieve) at a time when Australian explorers were scratching to raise one-twentieth of that amount and generally at below market price figures. The bulk of properties vended into Ivanhoe Australia, for which Ivanhoe Mines retained an 80% stake, were copper and copper-gold properties in north and north east Queensland.

The deal with Emmerson gives the Australian company a 10% stake in Emmerson, based on a placement of 22.61m shares at A13 cents/share. Ivanhoe Australia also gets 27.9m options exercisable at A20¢/share within two years, which upon exercise would see it inject $A5.58m ($US4.01m) into Emmerson to increase its stake to 19.9% -- the Plimsoll Line for triggering a compulsory takeover bid. News of the deal lifted Emmerson's share price by more than 20% to A15¢.

The Tennant Creek field, 500km (about 300 miles) north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, has produced some high grade mines since the 1930s, mainly in ironstone country where some of the rocks could blunt a tungsten bit, but the mined grades were around 15-20 grams/tonne gold and between 2-4% copper.

The Emmerson tenements cover 2,700 square kilometres and its assets include the refurbished Warrego treatment facility that was used for gold-copper-bismuth operations and core libraries.

Late last month Ivanhoe Australia announced progress on an aggressive drilling programme on its Merlin prospect in the Cloncurry region of north-west Queensland where it gained high grade molybdenum and rhenium sulphide mineralisation with significant copper.

One drill intercept of 58m grading 2.25% molybdenum 28.99 grams/tonne Re and 0.09% copper included a 20m section @ 6.26% Mo, 81.83 g/t Re and 0.14% Cu.

At the time Ivanhoe Australia's chief executive Peter Reeve pointed out that rhenium, a very rare silvery metal that may occur with molybdenum currently has global production of only about 50 tonnes of metal. An estimated 77% of rhenium is used in super alloys and 15% in petroleum catalysts.