The West Australian | Matt Birney | 13 Jan 2022
Drilling at the Cortadera copper-gold discovery in Chile. Credit: File
ASX-listed Hot Chili has launched a 10,000m probe of a recently secured land package which straddles the western extension of its massive 417 million tonne indicated Cortadera copper-gold discovery in Chile, South America. The company plans to evaluate four porphyry targets in the drill campaign and has unleashed both a diamond and RC rig to complete its two-pronged plan of attack.
Both drill rigs are currently plugging away at Cortadera’s fourth porphyry target known as “Cuerpo 4” where earlier programs struck a host of shallow copper-gold porphyry mineralisation. The best of the previously scored strikes was a 128m intercept at 0.5 per cent copper equivalent from 28m downhole. The 128m hit was comprised of 0.4 per cent copper and 0.1 gram per tonne gold and also included a 16m parcel at 1.3 per cent copper equivalent.
Hot Chili has flagged Cortadera as the jewel in the crown of its low-altitude, Costa Fuego copper development and has cited the asset’s bumper indicated resource of 471Mt grading 0.46 per cent copper equivalent for 1.7Mt of copper and 1.8 million ounces of gold as key merits in its designation. Notably, Cortadera also hosts a 108Mt inferred resource base at 0.35per cent copper equivalent for an additional 0.3Mt of copper and 0.3Moz gold.
The inventory is hosted in three porphyry centres coined Cuerpo 1, Cuerpo 2 and Cuerpo 3 which sit within a 2.3km strike length of the company’s Cortadera trend. Importantly, Hot Chili’s recent land grab which extended the western tenements of Cortadera also more than doubled the prospective strike length of the discovery from 2.3km to 5.2km and swelled the site’s near-term hopes for potential resource growth
According to the company, it is well placed to bankroll a suite of drilling this year and has a number of milestones in its crosshairs including a preliminary economic assessment and a resource upgrade.
Management states the play could permit an upgrade to its future annual metal production rates and an extension to its current mine life. If all goes to plan, Hot Chili envisions an extra production output of 100,000 tonnes of copper and 70,000 ounces of gold each year along with 20 years of additional mine life.
The company also plans to deliver a pre-feasibility study associated to Costa Fuego next year and says the project is amongst only a handful of near-term production projects in the world able to deliver more than 100,000 tonnes of copper in the next five years.
Copper is tipped to play an integral role in the world’s low-carbon future and is employed across a host of clean energy applications including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicle or “EV” batteries and wide-scale energy storage facilities. In addition, copper is prevalent in the construction of EVs with about 38kg of the material finding its way into hybrid and roughly 60kg going into every plug-in hybrid.
A recent study by the International Copper Association predicts by 2027 demand for EVs will rise by 900 per cent, a tantalising proposition for companies with massive copper plays such as Hot Chili.