Rio Tinto, a global mining company, has agreed to acquire PanAmerican Silver’s stake in Agua de la Falda S.A., a company with exploration tenements in Chile’s Atacama region, and to enter a joint venture with Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer and Chile’s state-owned mining company. The joint venture will explore and potentially develop Agua de la Falda’s assets.
Under the agreement, Rio Tinto will purchase PanAmerican Silver’s 57.74% operating stake in Agua de la Falda for $45 million and the grant of new smelter returns royalties. Additionally, Rio Tinto will acquire 100% of nearby concessions known as the Meridian Property for $550,000 and the grant of new smelter returns royalties. Codelco currently holds the remaining 42.26% stake in Agua de la Falda.
The acquisition and joint venture are in line with Rio Tinto’s strategic focus on copper, which is critical for the global energy transition. With the increasing demand for copper in renewable energy and electrification projects, Chile is an important source of world supply. The partnership with Codelco allows Rio Tinto to leverage its global exploration capability while benefiting from Codelco’s local presence and industry expertise.
The joint venture marks a significant opportunity for both companies to combine their strengths, experiences, and capabilities to enhance exploration and development efforts for the promising asset. Public-private partnerships have proven successful in Chile, and the joint venture with Codelco complements Rio Tinto’s commitment to innovation, technology, safety, productivity, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes.
The partnership builds on a previous underground mining collaboration agreement signed between Rio Tinto and Codelco in October 2022, aimed at driving improvements in safety, productivity, and ESG practices in mining operations.