Copper explorer Hot Chili (ASX: HCH) has appointed global consulting firm Wood as lead engineer for a pre-feasibility study of its Costa Fuego copper-gold project in Chile.
The firm will be responsible for process plant and infrastructure design, capital and operating cost estimations, and execution planning.
This study will aim to transform a 2016 PFS for the project’s Productora prospect to create a globally-significant, low altitude, clean concentrate project, which can leverage from a central processing and combined infrastructure approach.
Productora has a JORC-compliant resource of 273 million tonnes at 0.52% copper equivalent for 1.2Mt copper, 0.8Moz gold and 36,000t molybdenum.
Its own study has laid the foundations for the Costa Fuego PFS, with site layout design, regulatory permitting, a maritime concession for water rights, and critical infrastructure easement accesses (water pipeline and power) already completed.
Last month, Hot Chili said work to date had re-shaped the Productora resource as a potential higher-grade, open pit, satellite option for the project.
Total resource base
The total resource base for Costa Fuego sits around 724Mt grading 0.48% copper equivalent for 2.9Mt contained copper and 2.7Moz gold, and includes the high-grade Cortadera prospect, 14km to the south of Productora.
Cortadera has a maiden resource estimate of 451Mt at 0.46% copper equivalent for 1.7Mt of contained copper, 1.9Moz gold, 9.9Moz silver and 27,000t molybdenum.
Hot Chili expects to announce an increase in Costa Fuego’s resource later this year, led by “significant” growth at Cortadera following the second highest grade interval from the deposit reported earlier this month.
The Costa Fuego PFS will consider a concentrator and leach throughput range of up to 30Mt per annum and is expected to be completed late next year.
Wood is currently delivering a detailed engineering study for Rio Tinto’s (ASX: RIO) Oyu Tolgoi copper concentrator conversion in Mongolia, as well as the Chuquicamata underground copper project owned by Chilean copper mining company Codelco.
Hot Chili has engaged consultants for resource development, mining, metallurgy and infrastructure aspects to work alongside Wood.