That’s hot: Costa Fuego’s indicated resource increases to 798Mt as Hot Chili prepares for PFS completion


The expansion of Costa Fuego’s indicated resource is timely for Hot Chili ahead of the upcoming PFS. Pic via Getty Images

  • Resources for the Costa Fuego project now total 798Mt @ 0.45% copper equivalent
  • Over 59% of Costa Fuego’s resource is now classified as indicated
  • Hot Chili has also completed a water supply concept study for the Huasco valley region of Chile, allowing it to develop a regional water business for the southern Atacama

Special Report: Hot Chili’s Costa Fuego copper-gold project in Chile has seen a 6% increase in copper equivalent contained metal and a 9% increase for the higher-grade component of the indicated resource.

Hot Chili’s (ASX:HCH) Costa Fuego project comprises the Cortadera, Productora (including Alice) and San Antonio deposits, all of which have updated resource estimates and lie proximal to one another, around 600km north of Santiago.

Over 85% of Costa Fuego’s resource estimate is now classified as indicated following 24 months of material investment and 24.5km of drilling across the project tenure.

This included a mix of development activities such as metallurgical, geotechnical, resource expansion and exploration drilling – all designed to progress the PFS on Costa Fuego towards completion in H2 2024.

Total indicated resources now sit at 798Mt @ 0.45% copper equivalent for 2.9Mt copper, 2.6Moz gold and 12.9Moz silver as well as 68,000t molybdenum, while inferred resources have now topped 203Mt @ 0.31% copper equivalent for 0.5Mt copper, 0.4Moz gold, 2.4Moz silver and 12,000t molybdenum.

Cortadera resource grows another 13%

At Cortadera, which has again delivered the majority of resource growth for Costa Fuego, Hot Chili completed 43 reverse circulation (RC) and diamond drillhole (DD) tails for 17,000m of additional exploration and resource extension drilling.

Cortadera’s indicated resource tonnage has grown by a further 13%, supporting the June 2023 preliminary economic assessment which outlined Costa Fuego as having the potential to be one of the world’s lowest capital intensity major copper developments.

It now contains an indicated resource of 531Mt @ 0.44% copper equivalent and an inferred resource of 149Mt @ 0.29% copper equivalent.

Meanwhile, the Productora resource has been re-estimated following an additional 16 RC and DD exploration drillholes for 5,000m with an additional 2.8Moz of silver metal at 0.35g/t, which has now been incorporated into the copper equivalent contained metal.

Indicated resources at San Antonio now total 3Mt @ 0.71% copper equivalent, while the inferred resource sits at 2Mt @ 0.41% copper equivalent.

Regional water supply opportunity

In other news, Hot Chili has completed a water supply concept study for the Huasco valley region of Chile, confirming the potential for a large, multi-user desalination water supply network.

While Costa Fuego’s mine development plan considers the use of raw seawater for future processing, the water supply concept study confirms potential to also develop a large, multi-user, desalination water supply business.

It outlines an opportunity to develop a potentially 100% renewable energy driven desalination water business to supply community, agricultural and new mining demand of up to 3,700 litres per second (L/s) over the long-term.

Staged development scenarios were assessed considering the initial development of a 300L/s desalination plant being supported by potential foundation off-take partners.

The company holds the only active granted maritime water concession and most of the necessary permits to provide critical water access to the Huasco valley region following over a decade of permitting for the Costa Fuego project.

‘The perfect marriage’

“One, single, desalination water supplier, with the potential to unlock several significant mining investments, is a blueprint for the future of responsible water supply in the Atacama,” HCH managing director Christian Easterday says.

“This is an exciting opportunity to surface value for Hot Chili, following over 10 years of investment to obtain the necessary water concession and permits.

“It brings together the perfect marriage of economic, environment and social benefits for a wide range of stakeholders.”