Rio Tinto, Codelco partner to find more copper in Chile

Chile’s Atacama region. (Image by LMspencer | Stock Photo.)

Mining giant Rio Tinto (ASX, LON: RIO) and Chilean state copper miner Codelco created on Wednesday the Nuevo Cobre (New Copper) joint venture to explore and potentially develop assets in the country’s northern Atacama region.

The deal, inked in Tokyo by Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm and Codelco chairman Máximo Pacheco, unites the two companies’ complementary experience and capabilities, they said.

Rio Tinto also announced it had completed the purchase of Pan American Silver’s (TSX, NYSE: PAAS) stake in Agua de la Falda (ADLF) property, which holds the historical Jeronimo project in the Atacama region and several adjoining concessions.

Rio’s acquisition of a a 57.74% stake in ADLF paves the way for the companies to kick off their joint exploration work at the asset, as the Chilean miner has the remaining 42.26%.

Agua de la Falda has previously been explored for precious metals with minimal modern exploration for copper. Rio Tinto’s studies indicate it is prospective for new copper discoveries, which will now be the focus of the joint venture with Codelco.

“Chile is one of the most important sources of the copper and other critical minerals the world needs to deliver the energy transition and achieve net zero,” Stausholm said. “With this partnership, we are bringing together Codelco’s second-to-none expertise and local knowledge and our global track record in exploration.”

The partnership builds on a collaboration agreement between the two companies signed last year, which aimed at encouraging innovations and technology to improve safety, productivity and environmental, social and governance outcomes in underground mining.

Rio Tinto, Codelco partner up to find more copper in Chile
Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm and Codelco chairman Máximo Pacheco formalize JV deal. (Image courtesy of Codelco.)