Rinehart broadens South America reach with Ecuadorian copper venture

18th April 2024 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Rinehart broadens South America reach with Ecuadorian copper venture

Gina Rinehart's foray into South America signifies a deliberate effort to diversify her mining portfolio across various commodities in the region.

Australia’s wealthiest woman, Gina Rinehart, continues to bolster her global mining footprint with a strategic investment in a copper and gold project in Ecuador.

Hancock Prospecting has entered into an agreement with Titan Minerals, paving the way for a substantial stake in the Linderos copper and gold project.

Under the terms of the agreement, Hancock will inject up to $120-million (A$180-million) into drilling and exploration efforts, securing an 80% interest in the Linderos project. The initial investment comprises $2-million for a 5% stake, with further funding contingent on ongoing exploration success.

Titan Minerals CEO Melanie Leighton says the partnership with Hancock recognises Ecuador’s potential as an emerging mining jurisdiction.

Since 2017, with the commencement of construction of the $684-million Fruta del Norte project by Lundin Gold, Ecuador has increasingly captured the interest of major mining companies. Barrick Gold has entered into an investment agreement directing $27.5-million towards exploration activities in the country.  Zijin Mining acquired a 35% stake in Solaris for C$135-million, providing access to the Warintza project. Anglo American has a JV with Luminex, investing $42-million for a 70% stake in the Pegasus project.

Hancock, through its Hanrine subsidiary, recently acquired a 49% stake in six parcels of mining land in northern Ecuador for $120-million. Ecuador’s State-owned mining company will own the majority portion of the six parcels.

Leighton says Titan believes the Linderos copper project, spanning 143 km2 in southern Ecuador, holds significant promise as an early-stage exploration venture.

“Hanrine clearly sees the opportunity for large-scale copper, both at the Linderos copper project, and in Ecuador, an emerging mining jurisdiction, having made considerable investment into exploration in Ecuador over recent years," says Leighton.

Surface geochemistry and geophysics at Linderos have revealed multiple porphyry centres across the project area, with indications of shallow epithermal gold systems.

Titan has conducted extensive exploration efforts at the Copper Ridge prospect within the Linderos project, yielding encouraging results. Diamond drilling campaigns have confirmed broad zones of copper porphyry mineralisation from shallow depths, with intersections showcasing significant copper equivalent grades.

Moreover, recent geophysical surveys have unveiled the presence of a much larger porphyry system beneath the Copper Ridge prospect, underscoring the project's substantial potential for high-grade mineralisation.