2024 Thayer Lindsley Award

This award recognizes an individual or a team of explorationists credited with a recent significant mineral discovery anywhere in the world


The Lundin Group Vicuña Exploration Team

Lundin Group Logo New (1)

For the discovery of the Vicuña district in the Central Andean copper province in Argentina and Chile.


The Lundin Group Vicuña Exploration Team, including Wojtek Wodzicki, Bob Carmichael, Diego Charchaflie, Patricio Jones, Martin Rode, and Alfredo Vitaller, have achieved groundbreaking discoveries over the span of more than two decades. Their feats don't just encompass the identification of three copper-gold porphyry deposits but the establishment of a new mineral district astride the Argentina-Chile border. This success, a first in the Central Andean copper province for several decades, is attributed to a science-driven approach, technical excellence, entrepreneurial spirit, and perseverance.

In the 1990s, the Lundin Group initiated geological and geochemical studies in the Vicuña belt, an area of the Andes that had, up until that point, remained relatively underexplored. Positioned between the renowned Maricunga and El Indio gold-silver belts, this region posed formidable challenges due to its high-altitude conditions ranging from 4500 to 5500 meters above sea level. However, undeterred, their continuous endeavors unveiled a series of copper-gold porphyry systems. These include the Filo del Sol's shallow oxide mineralization found in 2001, the Josemaría deposit in 2004, the Los Helados deposit in 2008, the deeper Aurora zone at Filo del Sol uncovered in 2020, and most recently, the initial stages of Lunahuasi (formerly known as Potro Cliffs) in 2023.

At present, Josemaría is navigating its way from engineering evaluations towards obtaining permits and, eventually, entering production. Meanwhile, the Los Helados resource's growth trajectory has been upward both in terms of size and grade, thanks to the 2022 discovery of hidden copper-rich breccias. The Aurora zone, with its remarkable high-grade drill intercepts, has garnered significant attention. Evidence of this is a notable intercept measuring 858 meters with 0.86% Cu, 0.7 g/t Au, and 48.1 g/t Ag, leading to 1.8% CuEq in FSDH41. Aurora's high-grade finds persist, with extensions northward in the pipeline, and Lunahuasi's preliminary outcomes promise high yields, as demonstrated by a 60 m intercept with 7.52% CuEq, of which 10 m boasts an impressive 18.00% CuEq in DPDH002. Collectively, the resources from Josemaría, Los Helados, and Filo del Sol amount to 38 billion lbCu, 28 million oz Au, and 356 million oz Ag, with a definite potential for expansion.

Given the immense findings and potential, the Vicuña district is poised to ascend as a pivotal global hub for copper, gold, and silver production — a milestone of paramount importance for both Argentina and Chile. This remarkable achievement has been predicated on traditional, tried-and-tested field methods, emphasising detailed outcrop and drill-core observation and state-of-the-art interpretation using the latest geological concepts and models.

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