The West Australian | Matt Birney | 18 August 2022
Hot Chili says its pre-feasibility study will establish Costa Fuego as one of a few new material copper mines in the world set for near-term production. Credit: File
WA-based copper developer Hot Chili has dropped another piece of its Costa Fuego jigsaw into place after Chile’s Central Authority Electrical Regulator approved the company’s application for connection to the Maitencillo sub-electrical power station, 17km from the promising copper project.
Hot Chili says the approval is as a key step forward for the development of Costa Fuego because it will provide access not only to Chile’s national energy grid but also to multiple renewable energy providers.
Discussions have begun with electrical market advisers and providers and several non-binding quotations have been received for long-term power supply.
The selection process for a power provider or providers is expected to begin in the last quarter of this year.
Hot Chili controls 100 per cent of Sociedad Minera La Frontera, the operating company that owns Costa Fuego.
It regards Costa Fuego as one of the few global copper projects with low economic hurdles to clear and without infrastructure or permitting hurdles that might prevent its timely production.
Costa Fuego is at low altitude, about 600km north of the country’s capital, Santiago and only about 55km from the coast and the Las Losas port.
The company is aiming to tick as many “green” boxes as possible for the project and is taking a low-energy intensity development approach.
Water licences have already been granted to use sea water, without the need for desalination, for processing and existing infrastructure.
The company aims to operate the project on a 100 per cent renewable power mix of nearby solar generators, wind turbines and hydroelectric power to add to the project’s environmental credentials.
Hot Chili has been drilling the project’s Cortadera, Productora and Sant Antonio ore bodies to build its planned prefeasibility study, or “PFS” — expected in the first quarter of 2023.
The company says the PFS will establish the project as one of few new material copper mines in the world set for production in the near-term.
Earlier this year, good assay results helped boost Costa Fuego’s mineral resource estimate by more than two-thirds.
The total now stands at 725 million tonnes grading at 0.47 per cent copper equivalent for 2.8 million tonnes of contained copper and 2.6 million ounces of gold.
However, with exploration and resource growth drilling continuing, the company plans on a resource upgrade later this year.
With Hot Chili flagging more announcements across multiple work streams at the project, the rest of this year looks like being an especially busy period for the copper player.