Firetail Resources is rubbing shoulders with majors in Peru, the world’s second-largest copper producer
Special Report: If you took a poll from your cluey resources investor friends asking where’s hot for copper lately you might find they’ll tout a bunch of ASX explorers pushing into Argentina, Africa and of course, all around Australia.
But are junior explorers sleeping on Peru? It’s only the world’s second-largest copper producer, on track to exceed 2.7Mt for the 2023 calendar year.
All the majors are in on the action in the Andean nation and have been for years.
Big hitters such as Glencore, Barrick Gold, First Quantum, BHP, Vale, Rio, Grupo Mexico, and a bunch of local and Chinese interests operate in the southeast of the country, where copper is everywhere.
There’s at least one intrepid ASX explorer who is on the ball, after snapping up two projects with a combined ~260km2 in one of Peru’s prolific Red Metal regions in the south bordering Bolivia.
With a battery minerals portfolio across both South America and Australia that includes copper, silver and lithium, Firetail Resources (ASX:FTL) is currently laser-focused on proving up its Picha copper-silver project in Peru and Yalgoo-Dalgaranga lithium projects in WA’s Mid West.
Led by Executive Chairman Brett Grosvenor, the explorer has a strong corporate register and $7.8m cash position that it’s utilising to advance exploration activities across its projects.
In August, the company shook hands with Valor Resources (ASX:VAL) to farm-in up to 80% of the Picha and Charaque copper projects and has hit the ground running with channel sampling completed and a drill program currently spinning.
“We wanted to get stuck into projects that were drill ready, and at Picha, we’ve had plenty of positive signs so far with our early work that there’s a really good copper resource underneath the surface,” Grosvenor says.
He also thinks explorers and some parts of the investment community are sleeping on Peru as a Tier-1 mining destination in South America – especially since it ranks as the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, accounting for ~11% of global supply.
“Peru is ahead of the pack. It went through a nationalisation push about 15 years ago for its mining industry (like what Chile is attempting now), which ultimately failed,” Grosvenor says.
“They actually sought to legislate government checks and balances so it wouldn’t happen again.
“The country as a whole is really pro-mining and measures have been put in place to ensure it’s an attractive destination for foreign companies.
“The populous too know they have an opportunity to benefit and are welcoming companies like ours with open arms.”
With key permission from the Peruvian Ministry of Energy to drill up to 120 holes across the project area, and a whole lot of data previously done, maiden drilling is underway with ten drill holes for ~5,000m across four identified targets.
Assays from the first hole into the Cobremani target have already returned, with a best result of 13m @ 2.81% copper and 27.1g/t silver from a shallow 2m depth, confirming recent channel sampling which unearthed 41.6m @ 1.12% Cu and 22.85g/t Ag.
Another drill into the Maricate target is currently spinning to test a surface channel sample of 17.6m @ 1.95% Cu.
“I am delighted with the progress made by the team in Peru, with the first drill hole completed and the second underway,” FTL Executive Chairman Brett Grosvenor says.
“I have just returned from site, where I was able to gain a better understanding of all the activities in person, and to spend time engaging and building relationships with the local team and community.
“These initial assay results in the first 62m of the first drill hole at the Picha copper project is an excellent start to the drilling campaign and they are supportive of our interpretation of the mineralisation. Ultimately this gives us great confidence in the potential of this asset.
“Work continues on site, and we are looking forward to bringing regular updates on the assays as they are received.”
While FTL is completing the drilling of Maricate, drill pads are concurrently being prepped for exploration at the Fundicion and Cumbre Coya targets too.
Grosvenor has been impressed with the ability to find local experts in copper mining to join the team in proving up the resource.
“It’s actually a very good local community project and everyone is excited for success and prosperity for the region.
“It has the potential to be a new copper province in Peru which has historically been underexplored by the majors who have stuck to their own lane – albeit relatively nearby.”
FTL is also head over heels for prospective lithium at Yalgoo.
It’s partnered with SensOre (ASX:S3N), an innovative mining tech business farming into Yalgoo with exploration money and implementing its proprietary AI and machine learning data interpretations.
S3N’s tech, basically a ‘super geologist’ when it comes to desktop studies and survey analysis, gives early doors explorers refined targets to zero in on that can potentially save them millions of dollars along the line.
The mechanics of the deal include an option to earn up to 80% of lithium rights on the E59/E2252 tenement by spending $3.5m in two stages.
FTL gets access to SensOre’s tech which is already being implemented across the Yalgoo and Dalgaranga lithium project areas where lithium-caesium-tantalum (LCT) pegmatite prospectivity has been identified.
Grosvenor says the approach and subsequent deal with SensOre validate the company’s understanding of the region and the potential for a lithium discovery in the region.
“The agreement with SensOre enables the FTL team to continue to concentrate efforts on the current targets identified, whilst simultaneously unlocking the potential of the other tenements in the region.”
Its software to date has identified targets from historical and recent flowsheets to spur FTL into the planning stages of a drill program.
This article was developed in collaboration with Firetail Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.