ASX-listed Hot Chili’s pre-feasibility study into its 100 per cent owned Costa Fuego copper-gold development in Chile is gaining momentum. A materials-handling scoping study has revealed significant time and cost savings when implementing a “rope conveyor” to transport ore downhill from Cortadera to Productora. A similar haulage system has been successfully employed at Teck and Newmont Goldcorp’s NuevaUnión project, 100km east-northeast of Costa Fuego.
ASX-listed Hot Chili’s pre-feasibility study, or “PFS” into its 100 per cent owned Costa Fuego copper-gold development in Chile is gaining momentum. The company is pursuing a strategy of low-cost ore transport to a central concentrator that now looks like it will be built alongside the Productora deposit with ore from Hot Chili’s other major deposit 15 km away, Cortadera, transported via an interesting “rope conveyor” to the processing plant alongside Productora.
Hot Chili has appointed expert engineers Wood to oversee a PFS over the greater Costa Fuego project area. The study will use the 2016 Productora PFS to expedite a larger PFS over the project, which hosts a whopping 2.9 million tonnes of copper, 2.7 million ounces of gold, 9.9 million ounces of silver and 64,000 tonnes of molybdenum.
To complement the PFS, the company has completed a materials-handling scoping study that revealed significant time and cost savings when implementing a rope conveyor, or “RopeCon” to transport ore downhill from Cortadera to Productora. A similar haulage system has been successfully employed at Teck and Newmont Goldcorp’s NuevaUnión project, 100 km east-northeast of Costa Fuego.
Whilst the two projects are only 100 km apart, with similar average copper grades and co-credit metals, geographically the differences are stark. The two copper-gold deposits that make up NuevaUnión, Relincho and El Morro, are located between 2,000m and 4,000m elevation, approximately 40km apart. By comparison, Costa Fuego’s Cortadera and Productora copper-gold deposits are located 15 km apart within the low altitude coastal region of Chile, along the Pan American highway and within 50km by road to the port of Los Lasas.
Hot Chili says the materials handling scoping study has highlighted the potential for a RopeCon option to transport ore “down-hill” from Cortadera to Productora, cementing the company’s decision to locate central processing infrastructure at Productora.
According to management, Hot Chili stands to bank up to 10 per cent of the operating cost compared to other material handling options such as truck haulage, conveyors or an aerial ropeway.
The company says key government permits and mining approvals were secured for a processing plant and associated infrastructure, such as the tailings storage facility, at Productora during the 2016 PFS.
The key objective of the materials scoping study was to keep the proposed processing plant located at Productora to avoid any possible costly bottlenecks associated with gaining additional government approvals to potentially relocate the processing facility.
The proposed Costa Fuego mining operation hub will initially consist of the open pits at Productora coupled with an underground block cave operation at Cortadera.
“Not only can it be optimised to deliver value in our study models, it will be flexible enough to adapt with the evolving resource base being assembled regionally.”
“A region that appears to be getting larger when we consider a low-operating cost option like a RopeCon.”
With Hot Chili continuing to build its resources at Cortadera via aggressive drilling and Wood Engineering hard at work revising and updating the company’s PFS, the company is entering the home straight of an exploration and development journey of more than 10 years in Chile.
The new Costa Fuego PFS is due to be tabled in the third quarter of 2022.
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