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Estrella makes history with Timor-Leste exploration grant

West Australian - March 27, 2024

Michael Philipps – Estrella Resources has officially been granted exploration tenure of more than 500 square kilometres in Timor-Leste making history as one of the first companies to receive exploration rights in the country.

The nation is looking to build its industry in this resource-rich part of the world and ASX-listed Estrella is the first through the gate.

During an issuance ceremony, the company was presented with three exploration and evaluation licenses in addition to eight reconnaissance permits in areas considered prospective for manganese, copper and gold by Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Estrella managing director Chris Daws has spent the past 15 years cultivating relationships within Timor-Leste, which recently passed legislation aimed at enabling a new mineral exploration and development industry in the country.

The minerals tender process was a first for the fledgling nation, which only gained independence in 2002 following a previously turbulent period under Indonesian rule. Mineral titles will be awarded across the country in a bid to inspire a new exploration and mining industry aimed at improving the fortunes of the small island nation that has been long devastated by conflict.

Management says Estrella is one of only four companies awarded concessions by the government, which provides a first-mover advantage in a developing country that is starting a new resources industry.

The three exploration tenements cover an area of 121.5sq-km with the reconnaissance permits surrounding the licences totalling 382.2sq-km in a region which has seen no modern exploration to date.

The company says detailed mapping and sampling will aim to identify mineral occurrences on surface within the concessions and will be combined with further consultation with the local population as to the possible next stages of exploration. It will consist of airborne geophysical surveys followed by ground geophysics and eventually drilling if warranted.

Access to the concessions is 170km from the capital city of Dili by sealed, all-weather roads and then a further 10km on all-weather unsealed roads south to the towns of Baduro or Daudere. Timor-Leste has a pronounced dry season that will greatly assist land access and exploration in more remote areas.

Estrella says the nation is serviced daily with modern commercial jetliners, with just an 85-minute flight from Darwin.

From numerous trips to the country since 2009, Estrella's management have seen first-hand the mineral prospectivity and significant opportunity to add value for our shareholders. Importantly, from these trips we have identified manganese mineralisation across the recently granted Permits which have never been systematically mapped.

In December last year, Estrella revealed a new deal with the State-run Murak Rai Timor (MRT), which will see the creation of a joint venture (JV) to explore for valuable deposits in Timor-Leste.

According to the details of the expected JV, MRT will be free-carried at 30 per cent up to the release of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) into the mining concessions granted to Estrella. Management believes a JV is the best way forward for any potential success from mineral exploration to flow through to both shareholders and the people of Timor-Leste.

MRT was set up in September last year by the Timor-Leste Government as the "Timor-Leste National Mining Company" to be capable of participating in the mining of mineral resources on behalf of the nation.

Estrella's reconnaissance permits are 100 per cent owned by the company and are currently not part of the MRT JV which only applies to exploration licences.

The company says its in-country geological team already has boots on the ground with mapping and sampling underway.

Timor-Leste lies to the east of Indonesia, which has recently made headlines in the resources sector due to its rise in prominence in supplying nickel to the global metals market.

While it is still early days for mineral exploration in Timor-Leste, the market will be paying close attention to what Estrella can unearth in what could be described as the dawn of a new era in the country's resources history which is set amongst some of the richest deposits in the world.

Source: https://thewest.com.au/business/bulls-n-bears/estrella-makes-history-with-timor-leste-exploration-grant-c-1410901