Canadian/South African junior diamond explorer and miner, BRC DiamondCore (TSX - BCD; JSE - BCD), has announced that mining major Rio Tinto has signed a letter of intent for Rio to be able to earn up to 60 percent in BRCs five diamond concessions in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  These concessions are thought to be highly prospective for the hosting of diamond-containing kimberlite pipes.

The five concessions relate to a total of 106 exploration permits covering approximately 27,000 square kilometres in the Equateur and Oriental Provinces in the northern DRC, and are a part of BRC's extensive holdings in the Congo, which it would probably be stretched to explore entirely on its own, as it has been concentrating on its further advanced exploration concessions in the south. 

According to BRC, under the proposed arrangement, Rio Tinto would fund an exploration programme with the objective of finding and defining kimberlite ore deposits capable of economic development.

BRC's President, Dr. Mike de Wit, said: We are very pleased to be joint-venturing with such a highly respected mining company as Rio Tinto on the exploration of these promising diamond projects. Both companies are of the view that these properties are highly prospective for the hosting of diamondiferous kimberlites.

Should work on the concessions progress to the point, under a three phase reconnaissance and exploration programme, where a kimberlite bulk sampling programme is warranted, a joint venture company would be formed with Rio Tinto holding a 60% interest and BRC holding 40%.  The funding involved in Rio into reaching this stage would be some US$13.5 million.