Curipamba project is located on the western foothills of the Cordillera Occidental in Ecuador. Image courtesy of jmisael123ct.
El Domo is the biggest volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposit in the Curipamba project. Image courtesy of James St. John.

Owned by Salazar Resources, the Curipamba project comprises seven exploratory concessions covering 30,327ha. Curipamba is a volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) district containing copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold resources, on the foothills of the Cordillera Occidental, in central-west Ecuador.

Discovered in 2008, El domo is the major deposit in the Curipamba project, which was estimated to contain 11.4 million tonnes (Mt) of indicated and inferred ore resources as of March 2018.

A preliminary economic assessment of the El domo deposit completed in January 2015 predicted 2,000t of ore production per day (tpd) through surface mining in the first nine years and 1,000tpd of production through underground mining over the following five years.

Salazar Resources plans to develop the project by expanding the El domo deposit, while targeting other potential deposits in Curipamba, in collaboration with Adventus Zinc.

A prefeasibility study for the project is expected in 2020 followed by a definitive feasibility study in 2021.

Environmental clearance and exploitation rights for the project are expected in 2023.

Curipamba project development details

Salazar Resources entered a definitive option agreement with Adventus Zinc in September 2017, under which both the companies agreed to jointly explore the volcanic massive sulphide (VMS) as well as hydrothermal gold-silver style deposits within the project’s underexplored concession areas including the Sesmo, El Gallo, Sesmo Sur and Caracol prospects.

Adventus Zinc will fund $25m towards the exploration and development expenditure of the Curipamba project until 2022 and jointly work on the completion of feasibility study for the El domo deposit, under the agreement.

Adventus will earn 75% interest in the Curipamba project, if it funds the entire development and construction expenditures to bring the project into commercial production, following the completion of feasibility study.

Salazar and Adventus started joint drilling at Curipamba in January 2018. Salazar completed a 10,000m drill programme at Curipamba in 2017.

Curipamba  geology

The Curipamba ore deposits form part of the Macuchi Terrane on the western side of the Cordillera Occidental and comprise volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks.

The mineralisation in the El Domo VMS deposit occurs in two structural domains, namely the Eastern sector and the Western sector. Mineralisation in the Eastern sector occurs deep under the earth surface, while the Western sector hosts mineralisation close to the surface.

Curipamba project reserves

The El domo deposit was estimated to hold 8.8Mt of indicated mineral resources grading 1.62% Cu, 2.34g/t Au, 2.42% Zn, 0.27% Pb, and 48g/t Ag, as of March 2018.

Inferred mineral resources were estimated to be 2.6Mt grading  1.29% Cu, 1.09g/t Au, 1.51% Zn, 0.14% Pb and 29g/t Ag.

Mining and processing at Curipamba

Open-pit mining method using drill blast load and haul operation will be employed for the Eastern sector of the El Domo deposit, whereas underground mining involving chamber and pillar method will be used to extract ore from the Western sector of the deposit.

The run-of-mine ore will undergo crushing, grinding, floatation, thickening and filtering at the onsite processing plant, to produce copper and zinc concentrates for transport to third party smelters.

Infrastructure facilities

The project area is accessible by paved roads connected to the Quito- Guayaquil coastal highway at Ventanas and Zapotal.

Curipamba project site will receive electricity supply via 33kV overhead power lines from the Echeandía substation. The required process water will be sourced from the Runayacu River.

Contractors involved

The preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project was completed by Buenaventura Ingenieros (BISA) in 2015.

BISA contracted Transmin Metallurgical Consultants to design and supervise metallurgical testing for the project.

Inspectorate Services Peru, G&T Metallurgical Services and SGS del Peru carried out three metallurgical test programmes for the project in 2008, 2010 and 2013 respectively.

Kluane International Drilling was awarded the drilling contract for the Curipamba project in 2007.

Scott Wilson (now Roscoe Postle Associates) was engaged in 2010 to provide resource estimation and modelling for the El Domo deposit.