Marimaca Copper Corp. – Compelling Potential
The Marimaca Copper Project, recognized as one of the most important copper discoveries globally in the last five years, is progressing towards production.
Marimaca Copper is a TSX-listed copper company focusing on developing its flagship asset, the Marimaca Copper Project in Chile’s Antofagasta region. Its prime location enables the future development of this high-margin copper project at relatively low capital investment. The project also benefits from nearby first-class existing infrastructure and utilities, which ensure a lower execution risk.
At an early phase in the mining life cycle, exploration has the potential to demonstrate significant value, which Marimaca Copper has proven from the original discovery, through the publication of an enlarged Mineral Resource Estimate in December 2019 and the release of the Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) in August 2020. The exceptional results of the PEA confirmed the company’s belief that the Marimaca Copper Project is a development-stage copper project of the highest quality.
In summer 2020, Marimaca Copper entered a new chapter with a new President, Mr Hayden Locke, a highly experienced mining executive with a long career in developing and leading successful LSE and ASX-listed mining companies.
Hayden Locke says: “The quality of the asset was one of the factors that made me excited to join the company. The Marimaca Copper Project is one of only a handful of new copper discoveries that have been made in the last five years, and its potential is extremely compelling. With the changes that are occurring now in the global economy and the focus on de-carbonisation, it is pretty clear that copper will play a fundamental role in this development.”
“There are just not enough new copper projects being found to manage the increasing demand, and the few discoveries that are being made tend to be in more challenging jurisdictions. Marimaca Copper Project is in a Tier 1 location, within a very safe mining jurisdiction, with a whole range of features that make it unique.”
Mr Locke explains that Marimaca Copper Project is an all-oxide copper deposit with no underground digging required and simple processing, meaning substantially lower capital cost. Another advantage is the availability of existing infrastructure and a highly skilled workforce at the doorstep, which further lowers the execution cost. “This is a stand-out asset, in the top five globally in terms of pure economics.”
Re-branded to grow
Established some 15 years ago, Marimaca Copper, with its activities around various parts of South America, is not a new player, but the business was restructured last year to focus solely on its ‘crown jewel’, the copper project in Chile.
With a lot of preparatory work completed, Marimaca is coming up to a Feasibility Study, expected to be finished in early 2022, with permit acquisitions running in parallel with that process. The aim is to be production-ready in 2024.
The process has been very smooth so far, says Mr Locke, noting that perhaps the biggest challenge has been changing the perception of the company. “We had to attract investors to help us start this project, and we had to make sure that people understood our asset, understood what our strategy is and how we are going to create value and execute on that. We have gone a long way to achieving those goals. The next 12 to 18 months will be all-important in getting this project to the point when it is shovel-ready.”
In early January, the company announced the mobilization of drilling contractors, the construction of the first drill pads and the commencement of construction of the infrastructure and support facilities for the 2021 exploration program across the Marimaca Copper District.
“Our team has worked tirelessly to prepare for the upcoming exploration programme. The first rig will focus on the Marimaca Sulphide Target, which has the potential to deliver a meaningful extension to the outstanding Marimaca Oxide Project. We are entering an exciting phase for the company as we move to test several high-priority exploration targets, each of which, if we are successful, could change the scale of the opportunity at Marimaca.”
Right place, right time
The mine location itself presents a significant advantage – Marimaca is an open-pit copper mining project located in the coastal belt at low elevation in Antofagasta Province, Chile, approximately 45 km north of Antofagasta and 25 km east of the port of Mejillones.
Mr Locke says: “As a company, we are going to implement the project in line with the world’s best practices; that covers the whole process from stakeholder engagement right through to environmental management. One of the numerous advantages is that there are no towns nearby that we are going to impact; we are not going to be taking freshwater. While the area is not remote, it is a desert with little biodiversity to protect, nobody lives in the vicinity. We are much lower on the risk spectrum than a typical mining project, although this does not diminish the incredibly high focus, we put on environmental protection.”
The project will create jobs for local people, and the focus on finding local expertise is high, taking advantage of Chile’s excellent education system and the availability of skilled technicians. “We are committed to training people as required and by creating local employment, we are indirectly putting money back into local communities. While the initial mine life was estimated at 12 years, we expect this to grow with ongoing work. We are now focusing on explorations that may find us a much bigger project. If that is the case, then Marimaca could be multi-generational.”
“The excitement around this project is well justified. Not only is this the only new copper discovery globally in the last few years but is has incredible exploration potential. If we find another Marimaca as we hope, we will become one of the most important new copper discoveries on a global scale,” Mr Locke concludes.