Solar and wind are expected to power half of the globe by 2050, but can supply keep up with this increasing demand? A copper boom is already in motion and could last for decades since decarbonization is expected to drive consumption. Goldman Sachs even famously declared “copper is the new oil,” not only because of its importance in renewable energy, but also because it believes the entire sector is unprepared to meet the needs of this future demand.
Nick Snowdon, a commodities strategist with Goldman Sachs Research took it a step further, when he said “the copper market is sleepwalking into a really sizable supply crunch akin to what we saw in the oil market back in the 2000s.”
And in many ways, he’s right. The discovery rate of copper deposits is considered “dismal” with only one major deposit having been discovered since 2015 and 15 in the previous decade. It’s clear we need more copper discoveries to make the transition to producers if we want to keep up with potential increases in demand. Copper producers will need to double the amount of global production just to keep up with a 30 percent penetration rate of EVs alone. So, where is this future copper production coming from?
World Copper (TSXV:WCU,OTCQB:WCUFF) has managed to secure the largest copper oxide asset, currently in exploration and development, in Chile through its Escalones project. Early estimates reveal that it could reach full production using heap leaching at a fraction of the cost when compared to other copper porphyries found throughout Chile and Latin America.
Why does this matter? Oxide copper is economical to extract when compared to copper porphyries. Most copper mines in Chile are copper porphyries, which typically require anywhere from US$1-2 billion to become fully developed mines since they use the costlier sulphide floatation process. Conversely, oxide copper can be mined with heap leaching, a method that could require a maximum of US$500 million, for a mine of Escalone’s size, to reach full production.
World Copper’s acclaimed management team consists of Executive Director Mercelo Awad, President & Chief Executive Officer Nolan Peterson and General Manager Kryzsztof Napierala, all of which have decades of combined experience in the mining industry and corporate finance. Awad has demonstrated experience within Chili as well, earning the prestigious title of the number one CEO in Chile from the Harvard Business Review. His experience navigating Chilean law has proven invaluable to the success of World Copper.
The company’s year in review highlighted the impressive progress made moving towards becoming a major copper producer. In 2021, World Copper announced a merger with Cardero Resource (finalized in January 2022) to acquire the Zonia project in Arizona. Additionally, the company’s Escalones project was redefined as a copper oxide resource, thanks to the company’s experienced geology team. Escalones is now on the path to becoming the largest copper oxide project, in development, in the country.
“Chile is a fantastic mining jurisdiction for copper, it’s the world’s largest copper producing nation, it has the world’s largest reserves in resources, so we are in a very good jurisdiction for a copper development project. Our flagship project, Escalones, is in the Santiago region of Chile which is a very good region for infrastructure, including local components. The world’s largest underground copper mine, El Teniente, is 35 kilometers to the west of us. We would leverage off those types of relationships going forward,” said CEO Nolan Peterson in a recent interview with Shares Magazine.
- World Copper is an exploration and development company focused on developing key assets in Chile and Arizona into significant copper producing mines.
- The company is led by a strong management team with decades of experience in business finance, commercial mining and Chilean mining.
- The company’s year in review announcement showcased the continued growth of the company, including acquiring a new asset in Arizona and reclassifying its Chilean project as an oxide copper mine.
- The company’s projects are located in mining-friendly jurisdictions and have access to the necessary infrastructure needed to operate.
- World Copper’s Escalones project has tremendous potential to become Chile’s largest copper oxide project.
The Escalones Project
The Escalones copper porphyry project is located in Santiago, Chile and is only 35 kilometers east of El Teniente, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. This 70 square kilometer property runs north-south in the central Andes Mountains.
World Copper reported an updated inferred resource estimate of 426 million tonnes at 0.367 percent total copper in the oxidized zone at the Escalones project, confirming its potential for development as a sizeable copper oxide deposit.
CEO Nolan Peterson shared, “As an oxide project, Escalones now has a streamlined path to production, and we look forward to updating the market on additional developments as we pursue our new strategy.”
- Existing Infrastructure: The 70 square kilometer property has access to roads, seaports, electricity, and a gas line.
- Amenable to Heap Leaching: Metallurgical tests indicate that the inferred 3.45 billion pounds of copper should be amenable to heap leaching with an average recovery of 71 percent. Heap leaching is an economical and more eco-friendly mining technique.
- Future Expansion: The Escalones deposit has room to expand to the south, east, and west. Only half of the alteration zone has been drilled to date.
- Untested Mineralization: No drilling has been carried out on northern targets and it may contain the last remaining mineralized porphyr clusters in Chile.
Cristal Copper Project
Adjacent to the Pervuian border sits the Cristal Copper Project, a claim that is highly prospective for porphyry copper deposits. The project can be easily accessed via highway 135 from either the north or south. No exploration has been carried out since 2012.
- Magnetic Anomaly: Initial surveys indicate the presence of a porphyry copper deposit and has potential for additional large porphyry.
- Proposed Exploration: The company plans to drill 4 to 6 RC/core drill holes ranging from 500 to 800 meters deep each. The results will confirm the presence of the porphyry copper deposit.
Zonia Copper-Oxide Deposit
Zonia is an undervalued and advanced project in Yavapai County, approximately 100 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The large 4,280-acre property has excellent potential for additional discoveries, as there are already known targets that may contain additional copper-porphyry targets.
- Easy Access and Infrastructure: A 67kV line runs to the entrance of the mine, along with the presence of groundwater to help support operations.
- Permitting Advantage: All resources and phase I 2018 PEA production within the 100 percent owned private land.
- Expansive Sample Grid: A 150-meter spaced rock sample has generated a large coherent anomaly.
- Permit Application Filed: A permit has been filed for a 5,000 metre program on both Arizona and BLM land.
Marcelo Awad – Executive Director
Marcelo Awad has a long and distinguished career in the mining industry 18 years with Codelco, most recently as Executive Vice President 16 years with Antofagasta Minerals S.A., the Mining Division of Antofagasta Plc, including 8 years as CEO from 2004 to 2012, a period of significant growth for Antofagasta. In the 2011 Harvard Business Review, Awad was ranked as the number one CEO in Chile, 18th in Latin America and 87th in the world.
Nolan Peterson – President & CEO
An engineer and finance executive with an extensive career in project development, corporate finance, accounting, engineering and project management in the mining industry. He brings a strong technical and financial background as he holds an MBA from UBC’s Sauder School of Business, a bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering from UBC, is a CFA® Charterholder, and a Professional Engineer in British Columbia & Ontario.
Krzysztof Napierała – General Manager (Chile)
Napierala is a professional with 12 years of experience in mining and manufacturing industries. He is a driven executive with a strong background in business development, exploration, project management, and the management and restructuring of mining operations. His career is highlighted by over ten years with the KGHM Group, one of the world’s largest copper and silver miners, where he started as an associate in the exploration and development team, supporting the company’s business development activities and new acquisitions.
John Drobe – Chief Geologist
Mr. Drobe is a geologist with over 30 years experience specializing in porphyry copper-gold, epithermal and skarn deposits throughout the Americas. Mr. Drobe has a deep experience with organizing and managing exploration campaigns, particularly in South America, which he has participated in the exploration and development of projects in Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela and Chile.
Marla Ritchie – Corporate Secretary
Ms. Ritchie brings over 25 years experience in public markets working as an Administrator and Corporate Secretary specializing in resource based exploration companies. Currently, she is also the corporate secretary for several companies, including International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. and Trevali Mining Corporation.