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Rio Tinto unit acquiring Benton's Baril Lake claims in Ontario

Rio Tinto Exploration Canada Inc. secured an option to acquire Benton Resources Inc.'s Baril Lake claims near the Bark Lake copper-nickel-platinum group metals project in Ontario.

Under the terms, the Rio Tinto unit must pay C$200,000 over four years and another C$1 million once it achieves commercial production. Benton will retain a 2% net smelter royalty, which can be halved for C$1 million.

Like Bark Lake, the neighboring Baril Lake claims potentially host copper, nickel and platinum group metals, Benton said in a Jan. 2 release.

Rio Tinto Exploration struck a deal with Benton in 2016 to earn up to an 80% stake in Bark Lake.

Meanwhile, Benton said it will start an approximately 1,000-meter diamond drill program in early January on the Panama Lake gold project in the Red Lake mining district.