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Salares Norte, Chile

Based on encouraging results from an earlier drilling programme, we have moved our Salares Norte project to advanced drilling status. We also started a new drilling programme in late 2012, with the aim of completing a maiden Mineral Resource estimate and a scoping study by the end of 2013. Initial assay results have been encouraging.

The area is largely uninhabited – although there is limited potential for the presence of indigenous Colla ancestral lands within the project area. We are monitoring the implications of this – as well as Chile’s recent ratification of ILO Convention 169 (which relates to indigenous people’s rights).1

Given local water scarcity, we are implementing a short-term strategy to minimise water use during drilling – and are seeking to implement valuable lessons learnt at Cerro Corona and Chucapaca in Peru as we seek to manage our impact on local people. In addition, we are studying potential energy supply solutions, given the remote nature of the site and the lack of a nearby, reliable local power source.

In this context, we are currently implementing three key strategies at Salares Norte to assess:

  • The long-term availability of ground water for any future mining operation and the environmental impact of our exploration activities
  • Potential community and social issues
  • Prospects for securing land access from the current owners (the National Chilean State) in the context of evolving indigenous rights and potential declaration of a nearby area as a protected area.