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Hot Chili heats up with new Chilean copper-gold patch

Hot Chili is heating up on several new acquisitions. Credit: File

Hot Chili (ASX: HCH) has nailed down the right to acquire a lucrative 140-square-kilometre patch of the historical Domekyo copper-gold mining centre, a mere 30km from its flagship Costa Fuego copper hub in Chile.

And it is a timely acquisition for the ASX-listed explorer as the price for the red metal hit US$10,000 (AU$15,244) a tonne last week for the first time since 2022. Supply disruptions following the forced closure of one of the world’s biggest copper mines in Panama late last year and ongoing drought conditions in Zambia that have impacted copper production, married up with increasing demand from green industries, have spurred the significant copper rally.

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Hot Chili – via its Chilean subsidiary La Frontera – will stump up US$4 million (AU$6.1 million) in staged payments over four years to earn a 100 per cent interest in the 12 exploration and 14 exploitation concessions at Domeyko. Additionally, the vendor will be granted a 1 per cent net smelter royalty (NSR) for the concession package and Frontera will have the first right of refusal to buy it back.

The Domeyko mining centre lays claim to several significant historical copper-gold mines where previous operators exploited the shallow oxide mineralisation, but never ventured deeper to test the potential copper sulphide source. Interestingly, management says the area is prospective for both porphyry and structurally-hosted styles of copper-gold mineralisation.

Hot Chili has been on a land grab of late, picking up the nearby historical Marsellesa and Cordillera copper mines and the Cometa project, all within an easy 30km trucking distance to its developing Costa Fuego project.

However, Domeyko – which boosts its land-holding by a hefty 25 per cent –is its biggest acquisition since 2019 when it stitched up its Cortadera concessions that sit adjacent to its Productora and San Antonio copper assets and collectively make up Hot Chili’s Costa Fuego copper hub.

The three deposits at Costa Fuego have a combined mineral resource estimate of 798 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources grading 0.45 per cent copper-equivalent for 2.9 million tonnes of copper, 2.6 million ounces of gold, 12.9 million ounces of silver and 68,000 tonnes of molybdenum

Hot Chili released a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) in June last year showing the project will spit out a massive $309 million a year on average in free cash across a 16-year mine life. With the impressive set of numbers outlined, the project is emerging as one of the world’s biggest and lowest-cost copper plays, with an estimated post-tax net present value (NPV) of US$1.1 billion (AU$1.66 billion).

Management says it is on track to deliver a prefeasibility study (PFS) on the project in the second half of this year.

Costa Fuego sits in the low coastal range of the Atacama Region, 600km north of the Chilean capital of Santiago in a country famed for its copper resources. With a compelling portfolio of new projects in the pipeline, all within easy trucking distance to Costa Fuego, Hot Chili looks set to strike at a time when the copper price is just starting to heat up.

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