Vizcachitas: ‘It’s the most important greenfield project Chile has in the pipeline’ & More Trending News


Belonging to Canadian firm Los Andes Copper and operated by native agency Minera Vizcachitas Holding, the Vizcachitas project is a porphyry copper-molybdenum deposit in central Chile.

S&P Global forecasts worldwide copper demand, largely pushed by the increase in electromobility and renewable power, will double to round 50Mt/y in 2035 and Vizcachitas is seeking to get in on the act. 

The project is in Valparaíso area, 120km from Santiago. Large copper mines similar to Los Pelambres, Los Bronces and state miner Codelco’s El Teniente and Andina are additionally in central Chile.

But the project has not been with out its issues. Environmental teams and the mayor of Putaendo, the nearest city, have made efforts to forestall the improvement of Vizcachitas. They think about it a risk to the surroundings and to the conservation of the Andean cat, an endangered species that lives in the space.

BNamericas spoke with Santiago Montt, interim CEO (in left photograph), and Eduardo Covarrubias, government president of Minera Vizcachitas (in proper photograph).

BNamericas: At what stage is the Vizcachitas project?

Covarrubias: We are advancing in the prefeasibility examine that may present that the project is powerful from a technical, financial and socio-environmental viewpoint. Due to its magnitude, this project performs a basic position in making an attempt to cowl the international deficit of copper for the coming years, which is a necessary requirement if we wish to obtain electrification and face local weather change.

BNamericas: What sort of manufacturing are you referring to?

Covarrubias: We’re speaking a couple of project that might generate greater than 150,000t/y of copper for a few years.

Montt: It’s the most important greenfield project Chile has in the pipeline. If you assessment the [state copper commission] Cochilco mining project database, it may be seen that the majority are brownfield initiatives or expansions.

Covarrubias: It’s a project that’s adopting the greatest practices of sustainable mining. We will use desalinated water, HPGR excessive stress grinding which considerably reduces power consumption and we’ll incorporate the idea of filtered tailings to scale back water consumption to lower than half. That is, we’re incorporating practices of a brand new mannequin of productive sustainability.

BNamericas: For the provide of desalinated water, will you construct a plant or use a supply already in operation?

Covarrubias: We’ll be a part of a consortium with DESALA that may produce about 2,050l/s that may also provide different mining operations [in the area], in addition to small farmers and rural consuming water techniques. The pipeline will go up by way of the Petorca valley, which is one in every of the areas most affected by local weather change. Our project will contribute to the valley that suffers from water shortage, so it could actually entry water and infrastructure.

Montt: DESALA’s multi-client and multi-purpose mannequin is completely different from the desalination mannequin used in the northern area, the place because of the traits of the desert, solely the house owners of the initiatives are provided. Here we received’t use desalinated water solely, however it will likely be a part of a standard system and infrastructure that may profit the area. Our concept of mining is to be an engine of sustainable improvement and function a catalyst for progress in the area.

BNamericas: When will the infrastructure to distribute desalinated water be prepared and when would Vizcachitas begin up?

Montt: DESALA has deliberate to file for environmental analysis throughout the first half of 2023. Today, it’s very troublesome to acquire a social license to function in mining if desalinated water provide is just not included.

Covarrubias: We goal to current the prefeasibility examine throughout the first quarter of 2023 after which in the remainder of the yr and in 2024 put together the feasibility examine and the environmental impression examine. We will construction the financing in 2025 and 2026. This leaves us with a possible preliminary date to begin operations of 2028-29.

BNamericas: How will you scale back carbon emissions in gear, transportation, and so forth.?

Covarrubias: The biggest power consumption is in grinding, and by utilizing the HPGR, consumption is considerably diminished. With regard to the fleet or gear, we’ll favor electrical gear, however the optimization in this matter can be outlined in the feasibility examine.

Montt: In phrases of power, we have now proposed to make use of solely renewable power. Fortunately, Chile is in a place to supply clear power to initiatives like ours.

BNamericas: How are you coping with socio-environmental pressures and Andean cat safety campaigns?

Montt: Our project is subsequent to the Andes valley, the place mining is just not one thing unknown. The area has mining expertise and the communities have an interest in understanding the contribution that this mining improvement will deliver, which may improve the regional GDP by greater than 3%, in keeping with calculations by Juan Ignacio Guzmán, a professor at the Catholic University. With the monetary decentralization that the nation is adopting, Vizcachitas would have a optimistic impression on municipal, provincial and regional public budgets.

The radical teams that don’t consider in mining as an engine of sustainable improvement are minorities that don’t signify the majority. We actively take part in the municipality by way of neighborhood applications and we meet completely with the completely different stakeholders.

The Andean cat is a protected species that appeared for the first time in the Valparaíso area when our environmental qualification decision [RCA, for drilling] was already processed. Initially, the RCA was suspended, however we have been in a position to confirm with scientific proof that the project is appropriate with the safety of the Andean cat, which was ratified by the environmental court docket, permitting us to drill once more. We are dedicated to defending biodiversity and we’re engaged on a monitoring plan and a nationwide safety plan for the Andean cat along with professional consultants on the topic.

BNamericas: How a lot employment will the project generate?

Montt: Close to 1,200 direct jobs when in operation and 5,000 direct jobs on common throughout development. To this should be added contractor jobs and productive chains, the place native suppliers can be privileged. There are additionally taxes and a sequence of financial and social contributions that derive from initiatives like this one. Another important facet is that we received’t have a mine camp. This will enable better integration with the neighborhood and suppleness in order that employees can go up and down, avoiding the basic mining shifts.

BNamericas: What traits will the copper from Vizcachitas have?

Covarrubias: Clean concentrates can be produced, low in arsenic. This is one thing that smelters globally are on the lookout for, because it permits them to enhance their environmental indicators.

BNamericas: How are you financing the project and what’s the capex?

Covarrubias: The preliminary financial evaluation considers capex of US$1.9bn that can be financed mainly with strategic consortiums and financial institution financing. We will perform this project with excessive requirements, and as President Gabriel Boric identified to Justin Trudeau in June, “Canadian companies must behave in Chile as they do in Canada.”

Montt: There’s a historic alternative for the nation in phrases of sustainable improvement in the subsequent 20 to 30 years. The power transition will demand extra copper than the world will be capable of provide in the subsequent 10 years. Chile has the deposits, expertise and human capital to satisfy this elevated demand. Therefore, we should be capable of develop extra brownfield and greenfield mining, similar to Vizcachitas, complying with environmental laws and having the vital social license to function.

Vizcachitas: ‘It’s the most important greenfield project Chile has in the pipeline’

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Vizcachitas: ‘It’s the most important greenfield project Chile has in the pipeline’

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