BHP BILLITON IN SOUTH AMERICA
SAMARCO DAM COLLAPSE - BRAZIL
ECUADOR - EXPLORATION HOTSPOT
BHP Billiton has been active in Ecuador since at least 1999 when it had options to explore properties in the Rio Zamora valley in south-east Ecuador. In 2002, BHP transferred a number of properties to the Canadian company, Corriente in two joint-venture agreements, including Mirador. BHP retained a 2% net smelter interest.
BHP Billiton operates in Ecuador under the subsidiary “Cerro Quebrado S.A.”, opening an office in Ecuador in 2017 after the purchase of several concessions along the North-Andean Copper Belt. BHP strengthened its strategic position in October 2018 with a US$36 million investment in SolGold, bringing its stake in the company to 11.2%. BHP and Newcrest Mining are now both major shareholders in company SolGold, with Newcrest holding a 14.5% stake. With SolGold’s Cascabel mine mooted to be as big as Ecsondida in Chile, and rumours suggesting Newcrest and BHP are in a tussle to take over SolGold, BHP’s involvement in Ecuador is likely to be significant.
"SolGold's predictably positive view of itself is informed by the richness of its own, ever-expanding drilling success and the fact that pretty much everyone who is anyone in global copper and gold has subsequently acquired exploration territory around SolGold's Cascabel province. BHP sits at the front of that new crowd having acquired four exploration licenses that sit in relatively close proximity to the Cascabel. BHP secured those rights by pitching an $US80 million exploration work program to the government."
Financial Review, 6 September 2018