Mining, Mining Technology, Projects Tagged

Project Overview – Cascabel Copper-Gold

Ecuador is emerging as a mining investment hot spot in Latin America. According to the annual Fraser Institute of Canada survey, the country is ranked 24th among 84 mining jurisdictions.  It increased its score to 72.79 out of 100 compared to 57.95 that it reached in 2020. A few weeks we covered the project and exploration project pipeline which can be found here

One of the projects that is receiving attention is SolGold’s Cascabel copper-gold project located in Northern Ecuador. In April 2022, SolGold finally released their long-awaited prefeasibility study which did not disappoint and further proved that the project is a tier 1 asset.

Cascabel Copper-Gold Project

  • The prefeasibility study confirms the Cascabel project’s potential to be a large, low-cost, and multi decade mining operation. Once constructed, Cascabel could rank within South Americas top 20 largest copper & gold mines.
  • Cascabel would produce an average of 132 000 t/y of copper, 385 000 oz/y of gold and one-million ounces a year of silver, or 212 000 t/y of copper-equivalent, with peak copper output of 210 000 t/y.
  • The project is expected to generate over 6,000 direct and indirect jobs for the region.
  • Construction costs are estimated to be around US$2.7bn for the initial cave development, first process plant module and infrastructure. Post-production costs required to achieve production ramp-up to design capacity and sustaining capital are estimated to total US$2.1bn.
  • All-In-Sustaining Cost of US$0.06/lb of copper, placing Cascabel within the first decile of the copper industry cost curve.
  • Cascabel has an initial 26-year mine life but there is potential to extend this to more than 50 years.

Mining Method

  • Mining is planned to be a Block Caving mining method, whilst all horizontal development will be undertaken utilising conventional drill and blast practices. The vertical development for the main ventilation rises will be excavated using blind sinking methods.
  • Access to the underground mine is expected to be via twin declines commencing from a boxcut located near the surface.
  • It will be mined with Load Haul and Dump equipment to one of two primary crushing stations on the trucking level. Both diesel and battery electric vehicles were studied but further investigations for electrification is needed.
  • Crushed ore from the underground primary crushers will be conveyed to the surface and fed to the secondary crushing circuit. The product from the secondary crushing area will be conveyed to the fine ore stockpile, and subsequently reclaimed to the high-pressure grinding rolls (“HPGR”) circuit. 

Infrastructure

The project will have a lower carbon footprint and benefit from the availability of low-cost hydropower, on site water resources, the potential use of an electric mining fleet, concentrate transport via a pipeline.

Conclusion

SolGold’s Cascabel copper-gold project will help Ecuador cement itself as the next copper frontier. A definitive feasibility study is planned for completion in the second half of 2023 and the company plans to start construction in the fourth quarter of 2024.

For mining service and technology providers, the success of Ecuador and projects such as Cascabel could provide significant opportunities that will add to the already large project pipelines in Chile, Peru, and Argentina. All of these together create a massive opportunity for companies that have interesting services and products for the mining industry.

Ax Legal is an advisory firm that works with foreign companies in Latin America. Our team of legal and commercial advisors have a distinguished track record of helping foreign technology and services companies to grow and operate in Latin America. Over the years, we have worked with starts up, mid-size businesses, and publicly listed companies. The one common factor that connects are clients is that they are leaders in their field, providing innovative technologies and services to the industrial sectors.

To better understand how we can support you in the Region, please contact Cody Mcfarlane at cmm@ax.legal