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This Junior Copper Company is Ready to Unlock Value in Chile

Jocelyn Aspa Jocelyn Aspa, The Market Herald
1 Comment| April 28, 2022

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Chile accounts for over 28 per cent of global copper production, making it the world’s top producer of the metal. The South American country holds six of the world’s largest copper deposits with eight of the largest copper miners having operations in the country.

Put simply, businesses exploring and mining for copper in Chile are in good company — especially those in the junior exploration space that are looking to make the next biggest copper discovery.

Meet Atacama Copper Corporation (TSXV:ACOP, Forum), a company headquartered in Vancouver, but whose roots can be found firmly in Chile. Atacama is focused on exploration and development of two properties that are highly prospective for copper.

Despite the company being a relatively new entrant to the public markets (they went public in the latter half of 2021), Atacama Copper has had a busy few months, pulling licenses together and has cementing key partnerships that have been a decade in the making.

Since listing, Atacama Copper has been in the field doing baseline geochemical sampling, mapping, geophysics, geochemistry and magnetics at its key property in Chile, and has the added advantage of having experienced company management and leadership based in the country.

Focused on northern Chile, the company’s projects include the Placeton and El Cofre properties, made up of over 13,529 hectares of exploitation tenements and 1,100 hectares of exploration tenements. At present, the company is mostly focused on its Placeton project, where it has four identified targets directly between Teck and Newmont’s Nueva Union Project, which is a combination of the Relincho and El Morro deposits (hosting a combined 7,700 million tonnes of copper and 10.8M oz of gold in resource).

As the company advances its Placeton project, Atacama intends to drill roughly 2,000 meters over the next six months with the hope of finding the next Relincho.

The focus in Chile

In an interview with Stockhouse Editorial, Martyn Buttenshaw, Chairman of Atacama Copper said that the company is “very much” a Chilean company with its primary assets and several of its Board members and other key figures from the company based in the country.

“Whilst our immediate focus is Placeton and El Cofre; projects with great potential which we are confident we can unlock through a diligent work program; there is a much wider opportunity that we see in Chile. The strategic longer-term opportunity is to consolidate a number of small-to-medium scale private copper businesses into something with real scale.”

“In addition to the headline production numbers from the operations owned by the major copper mining companies, there’s a sizeable level of copper production from privately held businesses and projects across the country. Our timing couldn’t be better as there are a number of companies that are either undergoing generational change, are lacking the technical know-how, or are without the financing capacity to scale the business to its full potential. This provides Atacama Copper with the opportunity to potentially create a near-term production base in the country in relatively a short period of time,” Buttenshaw said.

He added that. It’s hard to find similar opportunities in other parts of the world and a key barrier to entry is that you can only really access these when you have an in-country team able to identify and executed on them locally.

Separately, Atacama CEO Gino Zandonai commented “We believe that Chile provides a stable footing for [Atacama Copper] to grow. Despite the headline grabbing political commentary, we trust that Chile will continue to maintain a position of leveraging foreign investment to accelerate the development of its natural resource endowment. Consequently, we don’t foresee any near-term changes for those companies operating in the country.”” he said.

The Placeton Project

With its ideal location between Relincho and El Morro, the Placeton project is located 55 kilometers east of Vallenar city and sits at 3,200 to 3,600 meters of elevation that is accessible by public roads.

The project also has roughly 7,257 hectares of exploitation concessions and four identified high-conviction targets. These targets include the northern, central and southern targets, which look to be related to the same magnetic-hydrothermal system but show different degrees of exposure. The fourth target is the Caballo Muerto, which along with a magnetic and IP anomaly, hosts geochemistry anomalies for copper, molybdenum and gold.

In January 2021, a NI 43-101 report was completed which made Phase 1 drilling recommendations based on a US$600,000 budget and included detailed geological and structural mapping, geochemical and geophysical (ground magnetics and IP) survey.

At the end of March 2022, the company announced results and near completion of the initial phase of exploration at the Placeton project, which will lead to drilling in Q2.

Highlights from the program include:

  • Fieldwork focused on the existing Placeton North, Central South and Caballo Muerto targets
  • Completing surface geological and structural mapping, geochemistry survey, magnetic and near completion of geophysics covering all four target areas
  • The identification of two high priority porphyry targets in Placeton Central-North and Caballo Muerto on multiple occurrences of D-veins, phyllic alteration and leach capping, and geophysical and molybdenum geochemical anomalies.

The company has stated that a follow-up geophysical IP program will begin in April/May with a focused strategy in more defining sulfide-related anomalies along and below high priority targets and refining drill targets in Placeton Central-North and Caballo Muerto, with drilling anticipated to begin shortly thereafter.

“The results have reinforced our conviction that the Placeton tenement package contains at least four porphyry targets, of which two have, to-date, been designated as high priority,” Zandonai said in the press release. “We look forward to progressing the follow-up geophysical survey in April so that we can drill-test these targets during Q2 2022.”

Zandonai further told Stockhouse Editorial that the project holds significant value that the company anticipates being able to unpack.

Similarly, Buttenshaw told Stockhouse Editorial that in the next three months the company will be looking to undertake a drill program followed by a more extensive program at a later date, (subject to the success of the initial program). Near-term, Buttenshaw said the focus will be on Placeton-Central and going forward the company will look to drill the Caballo Muerto, Placeton-North and Placeton-South targets too.

“We’ve reconfirmed these four targets and have a lot more data to support the targeting,” Buttenshaw said.

The leadership team

Gino Zandonai, CEO & Director

Gino Zandonai has more than 30 years of experience in international mining consulting in over 40 countries and was the South American Managing Director at Behre Dolbear Inc. mineral consulting firm.

Additionally, Zandonai was one of the geostatisticians for NGEx Resources Inc (Los Helados and Jose Maria Projects) activities in Chile among other publicly traded companies in the space. He is fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese and holds a MSc degree in Mining Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, and a minor in Mineral Economics.

Martyn Buttenshaw, Director

Martyn Buttenshaw is a senior mining executive and experienced non-executive director with over 20 years of mining experience and is also a NED of Ranchero Gold Corp. Buttenshaw was formerly a managing director with Pala Investments, a mining focused investment company.

Buttenshaw has also previously senior roles with Anglo American in business development and as senior mining engineer with Rio Tinto. Mr. Buttenshaw is a chartered mining engineer and holds an MBA with distinction from the London Business School and a MEng in Mining Engineering from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London.

Scott Hicks, Director

Scott Hicks was previously an investment banker working with RBC Capital Markets and BMO Capital Markets. He also served as VP Corporate Development and Communications of Anfield Gold.

Additionally, Hicks also serves as the CEO of Strategic Resources, VP Corporate Development and Communications of both Lumina Gold and Luminex Resources. Over the last decade he has worked on a variety of equity, debt and advisory assignments while working in Canada and Australia. Hicks holds a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours from the University of British Columbia.

Richard Reinert, Director

Richard Reinert is currently Managing Partner of Citation Capital and NED of a number of Alternative Investment Funds. Mr Reinert has over 40 years of experience in commodity trading working with Drexel Burnham Lambert SA, Gerald Metals and was a founding Director of Refco SA. Mr Reinert is the former Chairman of the International Petroleum Exchange and the Futures Industry Association and a director of the board of the London Metal Exchange Ltd and the London Commodity Exchange.

Camilo Raggo, VP Exploration

Camilo Raggo is a geologist with over 21 years of experience in mineral exploration and project development, including all technical aspects of mineral exploration, property evaluation, project development, deposit modelling, ore body definition and project management across South America. Mr Raggo has significant experience in porphyry copper deposits and IOCG exploration within Rio Tinto, Spence BHPBilliton, Quantum Pacific, Estrella Resources and several junior exploration companies.

The investment opportunity

As of the time of this writing, Atacama Copper has a market cap of $7.5 million and a share price of $0.22.

Thanks to Atacama’s skilled management team together with skilled geologists, entrepreneurs and mining professionals directly in Chile, the company sets itself apart from other companies in the country due to its significant Chilean copper mineral exploration experience.

As such, this is beneficial to not only the company, but also investors who can rest assured Atacama has what it takes to explore its eight high-conviction targets across three key tenement packages in a well-known mining district.

Buttenshaw elaborated, explaining that the company has multiple projects with a range of opportunities for success but also have very different pathways. He added that consolidation and opportunity in terms of near-term production is also beneficial to the company and investors as it helps to leverage the team in Chile who can actively pursue M&A opportunities to bring in more developed projects into the company’s portfolio.

Putting it simply, Atacama Copper presents itself as a unique investment opportunity not only in the copper space but also in Chile thanks to its deep roots and skilled team — making it a company that investors won’t want to miss out on.

FULL DISCLOSURE: This is a paid article produced by Stockhouse Publishing.

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