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The last piece is finally in place at Hot Chili’s flagship Chilean copper project, opening the way to potential development of a large central open cut.

The company will today reveal it has secured the last key lease at the heart of its Productora project, 15km south of the regional mining centre of Vallenar, successfully completing a four-year consolidation program.

The Uranio 1 to 70 lease wraps around Hot Chili’s central Productora resource of 85.1 million tonnes grading 0.6 per cent copper and 0.1 grams a tonne gold and will add a further 1.2km to the 1.4km strike length.

Historical drilling over the lease by Teck and General Minerals back in the 1990s has Hot Chili confident that it can add to the resource base with fresh exploration over the newly-acquired ground.

The company successfully bid for Uranio 1 to 70 through an auction held by the Chilean Commission for Nuclear Energy.

Its winning offer provides for Hot Chili to spend $US6 million over the first five years of the lease agreement, which is renewable in five-year blocks for up to up to a maximum of 30 years. Hot Chili wants to prove up a bulk tonnage project at Productora to support a development decision by the end of next year. 2013.

Meanwhile, another junior is inching closer to a development closer to home.

TNG says its planned Mt Peake iron-vanadium-titanium project in the Northern Territory looks even better after a pre-feasibility study confirming forecast life-of-mine revenues of $12 billion over 20 years. The numbers are based on a 2.5 million tonnes per year operation, doubling to 5mtpa after three years, at an increased capital cost of about $560 million.

Vanadium hasn’t got a great reputation in WA, given Windimurra’s past problems. However, Mt Peake would be tapped via a new metallurgical process which promises lower operating costs and much improved metal recoveries. TNG says the process has survived pilot plant testwork in Perth and will be evaluated by advance to further evaluation by the CSIRO.

TNG, which is 30 per cent owned by Jiangsu Eastern China Non-Ferrous Metals, has also flagged the possibility of siting the Mt Peake processing plant closer to markets in Asia.

sean.smith@wanews.com.au