US copper processing technology company Jetti Resources has found a key to help it unlock the vast Chile market in the form of a deal to use it to recover up to 20 million pounds a year of the red metal at the El Abra mine.
Mining major Freeport-McMoRan owns 51% of El Abra in a joint venture with Chile’s Codelco. The operation produced about 200Mlbs of copper last year.
Freeport is also a shareholder in privately-owned Jetti, which has raised more than US$200 million of equity funding to advance development and testing of its proprietary copper leaching process.
Chile produces circa-40% of the world’s mined copper.
Freeport said last month it was aiming to produce up to an additional 200 million pounds of copper a year via the application of new technologies and data analytics to leach processes at its operations North and South America.
“FCX believes these leach innovation initiatives provide potential opportunities to produce incremental copper from its large existing leach stockpiles and lower-grade material currently classified as waste,” the company said.
Freeport has earmarked capital expenditures of about $5.2 billion this calendar year, including $2.3b for mining projects and $1.8b for smelter projects in Indonesia.
“Jetti’s catalytic technology will be deployed on the existing leach stockpiles at El Abra and will target over 20Mlb of incremental copper cathode production per year after an initial ramp-up period,” Colorado-based Jetti said this week.
“The project will leverage existing El Abra infrastructure including excess tank house capacity sufficient to process all production from Jetti’s leaching technology.
“Engineering work for the establishment of Jetti’s on-site catalyst facility is already well advanced, with construction expected to commence in the first half of 2023 and commissioning expected in the second half of the year.”
Jetti also has its technology in commercial use at Freeport’s Bagdad mine in Arizona, USA.
“El Abra is Jetti’s first deployment in Chile, and we are delighted to extend our partnership with Freeport to a second site,” said Jetti CEO and co-founder, Mike Outwin.
“Real momentum is building behind the deployment of Jetti’s technology as its unique technological, commercial, and environmental benefits become increasingly clear.”