Little-known ASX copper share catches Gina Rinehart's attention

Australia's richest person is investing in critical minerals at a rapid pace.

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Gina Rinehart's investing spree shows no signs of slowing down. Spreading her fortunes far and wide, the newest addition to iron ore phenom's empire is a project under an ASX copper share few investors will have heard of before.

Not only is the Hancock Prospecting heiress stowing her wealth in different commodities, it's other countries, too. While the ASX-listed company is based in Western Australia, its project is over 15,000 kilometres away, in Ecuador.

Outlaying up to potentially US$120 million (A$187 million) for a majority stake, Australia's richest person must see promise — but why?

The latest addition to Gina Rinehart's asset arsenal

At a market capitalisation of $62 million, Titan Minerals Ltd (ASX: TTM) could easily be lost in the crowd of sub-$100 million ASX-listed explorers.

The mining minnow has three projects in Southern Ecuador that are currently being explored: the Dynasty Gold Project, the Copper Duke Project, and the Linderos Copper Project. The last one is a recent 'high-grade discovery' and the subject of Rinehart's interest.

As announced yesterday, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting — Hanrine Ecuadorian Exploration and Mining (Hanrine) — has agreed to acquire up to 80% ownership in the Linderos Copper Project, not the ASX copper share.

As per the agreement, Rinehart's stake in the project will be accumulated through earn-in terms as follows:

  • Initial US$2 million payment to Titan Minerals for a 5% stake
  • An additional 25% (30% total) interest in Linderos after 10,000 metres of drilling or US$8 million of expenditure (whichever occurs first)
  • An additional 21% (51% total) interest after 15,000 metres of drilling or US$12 million of expenditure. US$1 million to be paid to Titan Minerals upon reaching 51% interest
  • An additional 29% (80% total) interest at the decision to mine or US$120 million of expenditure

Titan Minerals' CEO Melanie Leighton spoke positively on the arrangement, stating:

Hanrine clearly see the opportunity for large-scale copper, both at the Linderos Copper Project, and in Ecuador, an emerging mining jurisdiction, having made considerable investment into exploration in Ecuador over recent years.

The government's support for mining from newly elected president Daniel Noboa was highlighted in the Titan Minerals' presentation. For example, Ecuador is reportedly the fastest-permitting country in South America.

Interestingly, the copper deal comes mere days after Gina Rinehart upped her stake in Lynas Rare Earths Ltd (ASX: LYC).

Outlook for ASX copper shares

The price of copper has been trending higher since October last year. Yet, some analysts believe the case for more growth is compelling.

Electrification is the big story for increased copper demand. Some argue that supply is tight based on projected demand. China's plan to damper smelting by 10% only worsens the chances of a supply crunch.

However, electric vehicles play a prominent role in future copper demand. Reporting in recent months has noted a meaningful slowdown in EV sales as cost of living pressures cut into consumer demand.

All eyes will be on Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), one of the world's largest EV makers, as it reports first-quarter results next week. Keen eyes investors may look for any hint on demand outlook, which could flow back onto ASX copper shares.

Motley Fool contributor Mitchell Lawler has positions in Lynas Rare Earths and Tesla and has the following options: long June 2025 $510 calls on Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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