TORONTO, Jan. 28 -- Tanzanian Royalty Exploration (TNX.TO: Quote), a Toronto-listed metals explorer, said on Wednesday that China's Jinchuan Mining has agreed to become a partner in the junior's Kabanga nickel properties in northwestern Tanzania.
Jinchuan will act as operator and hold financial responsibility for all exploration activity on the nickel exploration licenses following an option agreement with Beijing Songshanheli Mining Investment. Songshanheli previously held the properties under an agreement with Tanzanian Royalty.
Exploration is expected to begin on the properties early this year, Tanzanian Royalty said.
The Chinese companies will hold a right to earn an interest in the project in exchange for funding exploration.
Jinchuan is China's largest nickel producer, and plans to raise its production by two-thirds within five years.
The Kabanga properties are located to the north of a large nickel sulfide project -- also called Kabanga -- owned by Canada's Barrick Gold (ABX.TO: Quote) and Anglo-Swiss miner Xstrata (XTA.L: Quote).
Barrick, the world's largest gold miner, has said recently that it considers its stake to be a non-core asset that it would consider selling.