Regional Returns for Marimaca’s IOCG (Iron Oxide Copper Gold)

Published on 14 Jun 2024

Regional Returns for Marimaca

In a captivating interview with Mining Journal’s Chris Cann, Hayden Locke, the chief executive of Marimaca, provides an in-depth exploration of the geology behind Marimaca’s copper project in Chile. The discussion focuses on the unique IOCG (Iron Oxide Copper Gold) mineralization of Marimaca’s namesake asset and its implications for the company’s regional opportunities. This video offers valuable insights into Marimaca’s exploration strategy, geological uniqueness, and potential for significant returns.

Understanding Marimaca's Geological Advantage

Locke begins by explaining the geological foundation of Marimaca’s project. Unlike the typical porphyry copper deposits that dominate Chile, Marimaca is based on IOCG mineralization. Despite their similarities in being associated with magmatic-hydrothermal fluids and intrusive rocks, IOCG deposits differ notably from porphyry deposits. The key distinction lies in the type of iron present: IOCG deposits are characterized by iron oxide, while porphyry deposits typically contain iron sulfide.

Marimaca’s deposit exhibits a high prevalence of magnetite alteration, which aligns it with other known IOCG deposits. However, Locke emphasizes that Marimaca is unique, representing a hybrid between mantos and IOCG mineralization. This geological complexity is pivotal in defining the project’s potential and setting it apart from more conventional copper deposits in the region.

Regional Exploration and Scaling Potential

One of the most exciting aspects of Marimaca’s project is its potential for regional exploration. Locke discusses the company's strategic plan to scale similar deposits across the region. He highlights that IOCG deposits, unlike porphyry deposits, tend to occur in clusters, which can lead to multiple mineralized zones within a single region.

In 2021, Marimaca drilled three conceptual targets for Marimaca-style mineralization and successfully made three discoveries. This success bolsters the company’s confidence in finding more mineralization along the trend. The big question now is whether these new discoveries will match the scale of the original Marimaca deposit or if they will represent smaller, yet still significant, satellite deposits.

Current Resource and Future Potential

Locke provides an update on the current resource estimates for Marimaca’s oxide deposits. The project boasts around 220 to 240 million tons of oxide ore with a copper grade of 0.45-0.5% depending on the cutoff grade. This translates to over a million tons of contained copper across measured, indicated, and inferred categories, making it a substantial oxide project for an IOCG deposit.

However, the real game-changer could be the sulfide potential at depth. Historically, sulfide deposits tend to be much larger than their oxide counterparts. Marimaca has only begun to explore this potential. Still, examples like the Mina Justa project in Peru and the Candelaria mine in Chile illustrate how initial oxide discoveries can lead to significant sulfide resources. Marimaca aims to follow a similar path, developing the oxide resource while continuing to explore the deeper sulfide potential.

Processing and Operational Considerations

The interview also touches on the operational implications of managing both oxide and sulfide mineralization. While oxide and sulfide ores require different processing methods, Locke notes that oxides almost always sit above sulfides in a deposit. This stratification means that the oxide portion can often be developed first, providing early cash flow and facilitating the subsequent development of the sulfide resource.

Marimaca’s current focus is on building an oxide project with strong returns on invested capital. This strategy makes economic sense and lays the groundwork for future sulfide development, enhancing the project’s long-term value.

Satellite and Regional Projects

Beyond the main Marimaca deposit, the company explores several nearby prospects that could serve as satellite projects. These include three shallow oxide projects within a few kilometers of Marimaca, with the Mercedes project particularly promising. Locke describes Mercedes as potentially an extension of Marimaca, offering exciting expansion opportunities.

Regionally, Marimaca has about 25 kilometers of strike length, which is prospective for similar mineralization. While the company has yet to drill these targets extensively due to budget constraints, Locke expresses optimism about securing the necessary funding to advance these exploration efforts shortly.

Strategic Exploration and Value Maximization

Locke discusses the strategic balancing act of prioritizing exploration while managing limited budgets. The company leverages historical data and conducts relatively low-cost geological work to maximize its exploration impact. Marimaca’s geological team, led by Serio and Paula, is dedicated to uncovering new opportunities and delivering value through careful, targeted exploration.

The company is also exploring ways to finance ongoing exploration without diluting shareholder value. Locke mentions the potential for securing funding based on the exploration team's strong track record and the region's significant upside potential.


Marimaca’s strategic approach to exploration and development, grounded in a deep understanding of the unique geology of its IOCG deposit, positions it for significant regional returns. The company’s success in identifying new mineralized zones and its focus on economically viable development underscores its potential to become a leading player in the copper industry.

To delve deeper into Marimaca’s geological strategy and regional exploration efforts, watch the full interview with Hayden Locke. The video provides detailed insights into the company’s plans and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. By watching, you will understand how Marimaca is leveraging local expertise to unlock regional returns and drive future growth.


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