La Coipa mine is located in Region III (Atacama) of northern Chile, approximately
1,000 km north of Santiago and 140 km northweast of the community of Copiapó,
Chile. The mine is operated by a Chilean contractual company, Compania Minera de
Oro (MDO), a joint venture between a wholly-owned subsidiary of Placer Dome Inc.
(Placer Dome) (50%) and the newly formed Kinross Gold Corporation (50%).
There are three known deposits remaining within the government-approved La Coipa
mining area: Coipa Norte and Brecha Norte are currently being mined by open pit
methods, and Can-can is planned for exploitation beginning in 2005. MDO is actively
exploring in the district.
The road distance between Copiapó,
the nearest city, and La Coipa is approximately 140 km. The first 30 km are paved and
the remaining part is a third-class dirt road; the road is in good condition but can be icy
during the winter. Copiapó is served daily by commercial airline from Santiago. The
nearest port, Caldera, is 80 km west of Copiapó. The mine is connected to the Chilean
national power grid system.
The mine lies in the Domeyko Cordillera between 3,800 m and 4,400 m , with the
staff accommodations and facilities situated at approximately 3,300 m elevation. The
plant site elevation is 3,815 m, and current and future mining operations are at
elevations ranging from 4,040 m to 4,390 m.
The climate at site is considered pre-arid Mediterranean, subject to low temperatures,
strong winds and some snow during the winter. Despite the adverse climate, mining
operations are performed year-round without interruption. Temperatures range from a
high of 25°C in the summer (January) to a low of approximately -10°C in the winter
Water is scarce in the area, but the Maricunga Salar provides sufficient
water to fulfill industrial needs through a 40 km pipeline. Vegetation is sparse. Wildlife
observed in the region around the mine includes foxes, vicunas and guanacos. Pink
flamingos are also frequently seen around the salars except during their migration
period in the winter.
The mineralogy of the precious metals mineralization within the oxidized and
enrichment zone consists mainly of cerargyrite, native Au, native Ag and electrum with
minimal embolite, iodargyrite and argentojarosite. Within the sulphide zone, enargite
and native Au are the dominant minerals, but variable amounts of chalcopyrite, bornite,
covellite, mineralization tenantite-tetrahedrite, sphalerite and galena are also present.
High gold values in the eastern portion of Coipa Norte are in direct association with
advanced argillic alteration. Higher silver grades accompanied by little or no gold,
especially those in western Coipa Norte, are associated mainly with silicification and
less commonly with advanced argillic assemblages.