The Group has an active early-stage exploration programme beyond the core locations of the Centinela and Los Pelambres mining districts. This is managed through its in-house exploration team and utilises partnerships with third parties to build a portfolio of longer-term opportunities across Chile and the rest of the world. In response to the depressed copper market the Group reduced its exploration and evaluation expenditure from $101.9 million in 2015 to $44.3 million in 2016.
The Group focuses its exploration activities on the main copper porphyry belts in northern and central Chile. During the year, as part of its asset rationalisation programme, the Group relinquished low priority tenements and acquired new tenements more closely aligned with its target areas. First stage drilling was initiated during the year and progressed as planned at targets located in the second and third regions of Chile.
The Group’s international exploration strategy is to identify, secure and evaluate high-quality copper exploration projects in preferred jurisdictions such as the Americas and Australia.
During 2016, the Group downgraded Australia as a target country, increasing its focus on the Americas while refining its portfolio of early-stage exploration projects in key copper provinces in target countries. Working in partnership with selected companies, both public and private, the Group drilled and tested projects in Argentina, Australia, Mexico and Zambia and exited from projects in Portugal, Finland and Canada. Exploration efforts in Canada and Australia generated new projects that will be evaluated during 2017.
The Group’s strategy is to partner with experienced junior exploration companies, funding their exploration programmes to earn an interest in the projects while benefiting from their local knowledge and expertise.