(Bloomberg) -- Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, has grown her footprint in South America by taking a stake in a highly prospective copper-gold project. 

Rinehart’s private company Hancock Prospecting Ltd. will pay Titan Minerals Ltd. as much as $120 million on drilling and exploration work which would give it 80% of the Linderos project in Ecuador, the Sydney-listed company said in a statement Thursday. It will pay an initial $2 million for a 5% stake, it said.

The deal follows Hancock’s purchase of a 49% stake in a state-owned mining company last month for $120 million, which gave it six mining concessions in the north of Ecuador, according to the West Australian. The strategy finds Rinehart expanding her portfolio in a nation wracked by turmoil, including crippling energy shortages and drought.

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Hancock “clearly sees the opportunity for large-scale copper, both at the Linderos Copper Project and in Ecuador, an emerging mining jurisdiction,” Titan Chief Executive Officer Melanie Leighton said in the statement.

Over the past year, Rinehart has diversified her mining portfolio — built on massive iron ore projects in Western Australia — into lithium, rare earths and other critical minerals. In recent days, she bought a near-6% stake in Lynas Rare Earths Ltd.

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