Hammer Metals (ASX: HMX) has scored big, with Japanese mining and refining Sumitomo Metal Mining set to take over Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation’s (JOGMEC) joint venture with the copper-gold explorer.

It’s kind of a big deal for the junior. Sumitomo Metal Mining’s involvement with copper mining spans over 430 years – they have interests in eight mines across the globe and they own and control nine smelters.

Plus, in 2020, they produced approximately 250,000 tonnes of copper with a vision to build that to 300,000 tonnes of copper production by 2030.

Hammer MD Daniel Thomas said the move has boosted the company’s confidence that they’re onto something with the discovery of the Trafalgar deposit in Mt Isa.

“We’re thrilled to welcome a new partner to the Mount Isa East Joint Venture,” he said.

“Sumitomo have a prestigious history in the global development of large-scale copper and gold projects and their current operations span several world class operating copper and gold mines.

“Having their skill sets and expertise in developing large scale copper projects and their financing capability are things that get brought to the JV and we’re hoping it really accelerates our efforts in Mt Isa.”

Notably, the original terms of the JV will continue, which require total expenditure of $6 million by 31 March 2024 to earn a 60% interest in the JV area.

Exploration ongoing at Trafalgar

The company’s initial drilling at Trafalgar returned grades in two drill holes of approximately 1% copper and 0.2 grams per tonne gold – and follow up drilling in two more holes intersected between 20-30 metres at similar grades.

And Thomas is confident the outlook is good for ongoing exploration at the deposit.

“The immediate plans for the JV are being finalised and we’re excited to expand on the success at Trafalgar and get back to drilling before the end of the year,” he said.

“Several high-ranking targets along this trend remain untested with numerous old workings similar in nature to those at Trafalgar and at our 100% owned Lakeview and Neptune prospects.

“We look forward to working with our new partner Sumitomo Metal Mining and harnessing their expertise in the development of a world class copper and gold operation.”