Chile's Junior Exploration Community
Reducing carbon intensity and demonstrating scale are high on the agenda for Chile’s leading juniors
“Carbon intensity increases when you have to move a substantial amount of waste per ton of valuable output, but our project has a very low strip ratio. Typically, the biggest power commitment in the copper mining space is the milling required to take it from a coarse rock to a rock that is fine enough to liberate the sulphide materials for flotation. As we are doing heap leach SX/EW, we have much less crushing requirements as we are only crushing at half an inch as opposed to much finer. As you crush finer, the amount of power required is an exponential curve and we thus save significantly on power consumption.
For our back-end process we will be using electricity. We are fortunate that there is a huge solar endowment and multiple development-stage solar projects in the Antofagasta region, and Chile has a progressive regulatory framework which allows us to partner with renewable energy developers. While there is still room to improve energy consumption in the DFS, the numbers are already very competitive.
From a sustainability standpoint, the most important aspect is that the SX/EW process allows us to go straight to a refined metal – a grade A copper cathode – eliminating the smelting stage which has incredibly high carbon intensity on average across the industry. We are positioning Marimaca extremely well for what might be coming in the future, such as carbon taxes and more onerous financing criteria from investors with regard to ESG.”
Hayden Locke, President & CEO, Marimaca Copper
“We are currently completing a combined PFS, and it will be the first time that Hot Chili’s two largest assets, Productora and Cortadera, will be put together to study a large central processing hub. We aim to deliver the PFS later in 2022, as well as kicking off our project financing discussions in parallel with our bankable study. The financing process will commence our direct engagement with global capital markets in respect to the full landscape of project financing options. We are planning to complete the bankable feasibility in late 2024 and expect a two-year build before first production in early 2027.
In parallel, we are looking at further consolidation opportunities in the region and continuing to invest in exploration growth from within our land holdings. We see the Costa Fuego development hub having the potential to increase towards a 150,000 t/y Cu operation. If Hot Chili is able to achieve this, we will not only have the largest copper development on the coastline of Chile in the last 30 years, but also a project that is scalable and extremely meaningful in terms of new copper mines built for this cycle.”
Christian Easterday, Managing Director, Hot Chili Limited
“The El Peńón processing facility is designed to produce a primary copper-gold concentrate for sale but is also uniquely designed to reduce the environmental impact of processing by recycling water, recovering magnetic iron and producing a dry tailing. This facility will be one of the first processing plants in the Chilean small mining sector to employ this state of art technology. By recovering magnetic iron from the processed material, this will reduce the total tailing output by about 40%. Additionally, the system captures water within secondary processing, removes water from the tailings, and allows it to be recirculated through that system—leading to a reduction of water consumption by approximately 75%.
Our system captures product in a closed-circuit and recirculates water, precluding the need for constant water consumption and the requirement for a tailings dam, as the final product passes through the dewatering stack and generates a dry tailing that can be stock piled on site. So at the end of the day, we can recover saleable copper-gold concentrate and a secondary iron concentrate with the final result a dry tailing that has a further potential to be sold as a construction product. We like the thought that after recovering the metals, the process has the possibility to produce net-zero waste.”