"Los Chapitos is envisioned as a medium to large-size IOCG (iron oxide copper-gold) discovery. IOCG deposits exist up the coast of Chile and Peru and are typically not as large as major porphyry deposits, but tend to carry higher grade and other metal credits."
Can you explain what led you to become president and CEO of copper junior, Camino Corporation, in January 2020?
I was led to copper because copper is the metal that connects renewable energy and electric transportation, which is the direction that I believe that the world is headed. I had been reviewing copper projects for a couple of years and came across Camino Corp. in 2020 with the flagship Los Chapitos discovery located in an excellent jurisdiction in Peru. There is a lack of new discoveries in the copper space, and Camino’s previous drill results from 2017 indicated the potential scale and grade for a copper mine. My business partner, Keith Peck, was involved with the development of the Franke copper mine at Chilean copper producer Centenario Copper, and we believe the Los Chapitos could be similar.
What progress was made by Camino Corp. in 2020?
In 2020 we completed a 100% acquisition of the Los Chapitos project, received permits and approvals to drill, and on July 14, 2020 closed a private placement of C$3 to fund exploration activities. After analyzing our database through Covid-19 in a comprehensive manner, we advanced Los Chapitos to the next stage of exploration and drilling. The 2020 drill program has been successful in expanding copper mineralization and identifying potential near-surface copper tonnage at Los Chapitos and marked the discovery of a large previously unknown alteration system.
We also engaged with the local community near Los Chapitos to provide food and assistance during the Covid-19 shutdown. We developed and implemented a plan for surveillance, prevention, and control of Covid-19, following the guidelines by the Ministry of Health and had zero infections among its Peruvian operations team in 2020. On December 18, 2020, Camino hosted a Covid-19 Prevention Day, as part of our integrated prevention program. Covid-19 testing was administered to the leaders and most vulnerable members of the community.
What potential do you see in the Los Chapitos deposit, and how easily could it be developed into a mine in the future?
Los Chapitos is envisioned as a medium to large-size IOCG (iron oxide copper-gold) discovery. IOCG deposits exist up the coast of Chile and Peru and are typically not as large as major porphyry deposits, but tend to carry higher grade and other metal credits. At Los Chapitos, the intercepts have been copper with only trace amounts of silver. The 2020 drilling program added 2,358.1 meters and brings the overall meterage on the property to 21,519 meters. We intercepted copper mineralization in 8 of the 9 HQ diamond drill holes, with the results detailed in our news release dated January 19, 2021. Surface sample results from Los Chapitos field mapping covering new drill targets will be released in upcoming weeks of February. Our initial exploration target is to get to a minimum of 20 to 30 million metric tons (mt) of resource. At that size, we believe that the CapEx to develop a copper mine is possible to finance as a junior company. However, the upside potential for these IOCG systems is up to 500 million mt, with the best comparison being Mina Justa in Peru, which is about a 400 million mt IOCG deposit and is located about 100km north of Los Chapitos.
How do you view the short, medium and long term dynamics of copper?
Over the next year there will be a balance between the reality of less consumer demand for certain materials from Covid-19, but this should be offset by government stimulus infrastructure projects (copper demand is about 30% for electrical networks and 20% for construction in China today) to help rejuvenate economies. We saw this happen in 2011. Electric cars and renewables are also part of this future demand uptick, which ties in to the positive medium to long term outlook for copper. Companies like BHP are undoing coal contracts in favor of renewables, and the common metal for renewables is copper. We currently have a refined copper supply of just over 20 million metric tons per year (mt/y), which should grow with the exponential rise of renewable energy and transition to electrified transportation. On the supply side, there have not been adequate copper discoveries developed in the last decade, with a decline in grade at some of the major deposits, as we are seeing in Chile.
Do you have a final message about the restart of Camino Minerals?
We re-capitalized Camino to restart exploration at our Los Chapitos copper discovery and to develop a platform to build a copper company. We have identified up to four areas of copper, including copper/gold mineralization at Los Chapitos, which is a large land package of 220km2 that we will continue to explore through 2021. As well as developing the Los Chapitos project, we are assessing other business development opportunities to grow the company. Our second copper project, Plata Dorada, is a high-grade copper and silver project located 158 km east of Cuzco. We have a track record of identifying early-stage projects to form the basis of successful, long term operating mining and chemical businesses, and we are looking to repeat this success in the copper sector at Camino.