Rio Tinto has formalised a joint venture (JV) with Chilean state-run company Codelco, after closing the purchase of a 57.74% stake in Chile’s Agua de la Falda project from PanAmerican Silver.

The new JV will go by the name ‘Nuevo Cobre’ or New Copper.

Codelco owns the remaining 42.26% interest in the Agua de la Falda project.

At the end of July 2023, Pan American Silver announced that it was selling some of its non-core assets, including the Agua de la Falda project, for a total amount of $593m (C$817.87m).

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By GlobalData

Pan American Silver acquired the Agua de la Falda project stake for $45m. The deal also included a 1.25% NSR on all precious metals and a 0.2% NSR on all base metals.

The acquisition allows Rio Tinto to jointly explore the asset with Codelco.

Rio Tinto CEO Jakob Stausholm said: “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. With this partnership, we are bringing together our complementary experience and capabilities.

“Codelco’s local knowledge and expertise is second to none and we have a global track record in exploration. I am very much looking forward to getting our work on the ground started.”

Codelco chairman Maximo Pacheco said: “This is an unbeatable opportunity for Codelco and Rio Tinto to join our knowledge, experience, strengths and capabilities to accelerate exploration and development of these assets to contribute the copper that the world needs for its energy transition.

“We are very pleased to formalise this partnership with Rio Tinto and acknowledge our mutual commitment to following the best standards of health, safety, community relations and care for the environment.”

Located in the Atacama region of northern Chile, the project sits next to several concessions, which are indirectly owned by Pan American.

The project was previously explored for precious metals with very little modern exploration for copper.

Rio Tinto claims that the project is prospective of new copper discoveries, which the new JV will focus on.