Our aim is at least to replace the mineral resources mined at our operations each year, and to help provide a platform for Antofagasta’s sustainable and long-term growth.

Our aim is at least to replace the mineral resources mined at our operations each year, and to help provide a platform for Antofagasta’s sustainable and long-term growth. In 2023, we continued our efforts to make progress in consolidating our latest discoveries and adding new targets to our portfolio, maintaining our pipeline of exploration opportunities for the coming years.

This year all exploration activities have been executed as normal. We remain focused on favourable jurisdictions in the Americas, particularly in Chile, Peru, Canada and the USA.

In Chile, we are pursuing brownfield and greenfield projects, and in the other countries we have generative programmes, identifying early-stage projects, while remaining open to M&A opportunities.

The Global Exploration Management (GEM) team, which is based in Santiago, Chile, leads all of the Group’s exploration activities with the local offices in Lima (Peru) and Toronto (Canada) reporting to the GEM team on progress in Peru and North America respectively.

Exploration was conducted using in-house teams, with work completed on a well-balanced portfolio of land holdings in Chile, Peru and Canada, while also pursuing third-party opportunities in the rest of the Americas, with the aim of building a portfolio of long-term copper

The Group’s exploration and evaluation expenditure, which includes expenditure on pre-feasibility studies, increased by $28 million to $141 million, reflecting geotechnical drilling at Centinela and evaluation work at Los Pelambres. Overall expenditures across the Company’s exploration projects remained in line year-on-year.


Our exploration programme in Chile remains focused on highly prospective areas in northern and central Chile, mainly in metallogenic belts hosting porphyry, manto and IOCG (Iron Oxide Copper Gold) deposit types.

During the year, the Company completed a total of 77,000 metres of drilling, 3% less than in 2022, with work primarily focused at two advanced projects: Cachorro and Encierro.

The Cachorro project is located in the western Atacama Desert in northern Chile, 100 km north-east of the city of Antofagasta and 1,100 km north of Santiago. Work at Cachorro in 2023 has enabled the Company to report a second inferred mineral resource estimate, increasing by 8% to 250 Mt, with a copper grade of 1.26% (using an unchanged cut-off grade of 0.5% copper). This increase in size and grade is attributable to an increase in the number of holes drilled, with work in 2023 being a combination of step out and infill drilling. The results reported to date by the Company make this project one of the most important manto-type deposits in the northern coastal belt in Chile. Cachorro lies between Antucoya and Centinela, which may enable the project to benefit from the use of existing facilities.

The Encierro project is in the Chilean High Andes, 100 km east of the city of Vallenar and 600 km north of Santiago. The deposit is a complex Cu-Au-Mo Miocene porphyry copper, and the Company announced an inaugural inferred mineral resource estimate in June 2022 of 522 Mt at 0.65% copper, 0.22 g/t gold and 74 ppm molybdenum (using a cut-off grade of 0.5% copper). During the year, new targets were identified within the property, along with additional drilling of potential new targets located close to the main ore body, with preparatory administrative work completed ahead of the next phase of exploration at Encierro.


In line with our strategy to focus on exploration within the Americas during 2023, additional joint venture exploration agreements were signed with a Peruvian company. These agreements will provide access to properties with high exploration potential, with exploration work to be controlled and led by the GEM team, starting in 2024.