Hot Chili’s Cortadera is in the same league as Rio Tinto’s Winu, SolGold’s Cascabel
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Special Report: Hot Chili’s large Cortadera copper-gold project in Chile is proving it can match it with the big boys.
A comparison of Cortadera to Rio Tinto’s new big Winu copper-gold discovery in Western Australia’s Paterson Province and SolGold’s massive Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador shows Cortadera can compete on several fronts.
In terms of the length and grades of the drill hits that are coming out of Cortadera, they are on par with, if not better in some cases, than Rio’s Winu project.
“Comparing the hits that are coming out of Cortadera to Winu, you’d have to say they’re at least on par, but we don’t have 50-100m of desert sand over the top of us,” managing director Christian Easterday told Stockhead.
Drilling at Cortadera recently delivered a record 750m hit that included 188m at close to 1 per cent copper and 0.5 grams per tonne (g/t) of gold.
That intercept ranks in the top 50 copper-gold porphyry hits ever recorded globally.
Another intercept extended for 864m at 0.4 per cent copper and 0.1g/t gold starting from 62m below surface.
By comparison, Winu drilling has delivered hits of 741m at 0.4 per cent copper and 0.5g/t gold from 68m.
The grades of Hot Chili’s Cortadera deposit are also comparable to SolGold’s Cascabel mine.
Cascabel has a resource of 3 billion tonnes at 0.37 per cent copper and 0.2g/t of gold.
Cortadera doesn’t quite have as many tonnes as Cascabel yet, but it does leverage off the Company’s Productora resource base of 236 million tonnes at 0.48 per cent copper and 0.1g/t of gold, located just 14km away.
Cortadera and Cascabel are also porphyry deposits, whereas Winu is a vein swarm deposit.
Most of the major copper deposits around the world are porphyry deposits. They are usually large and low-grade but can be mined at low cost due to their scale.
Porphyries typically range from 100 million to 5 billion tonnes, but at lower grades of between 0.2 per cent and less than 1 per cent copper.
In Hot Chili’s case, the company has reported grades as high as 1 per cent copper – which when it comes to a porphyry is considered high-grade.
“Drilling is quite deep down now and we’re right in the guts of the high-grade,” Easterday said.
“I doubt that within 28,000m of drilling that one spectacular hole in particular is going to be an orphan.”
Cortadera has the potential to be transformed from two Tier 2 discoveries (Productora and Cortadera) into one massive Tier 1 operation, according to Hot Chili.
And the project has a number of smaller high-grade satellite deposits to build out its resource potential.
By comparison, Winu is one Tier 2 deposit with some smaller joint venture deposits.
Cortadera, however, is showing very early potential that it’s more like Cascabel, which is one really big Tier 1 deposit hosting 10.8 million tonnes of contained copper metal, 20 million ounces of gold, and still growing.
But Cascabel requires block cave underground mining because the ore body starts from around 600m deep, whereas Cortadera can be initially developed as a shallow open pit, with mineralisation starting from surface.
Cortadera is also located just 60km from a port, much closer than Winu (450km) or Cascabel (100km) is from a port, and has good access to power, water and sealed roads.
Highly regarded porphyry specialist Dr Steve Garwin recently joined Hot Chili as a consultant to its exploration team to refine their understanding of Cortadera and assist in drill targeting and design.
Garwin has extensive experience with recent Tier-1 copper-gold porphyry discoveries, most notably Cascabel and the Batu Hijau deposit in Indonesia.