The state hosts the Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill and Carrapateena IOCG operations, while Peake sits to the north in an area that was overlooked for its copper prospectivity - until recently.
Chessell, a triple Mt Everest summiteer, may have hung up his hiking boots to return to his geology skills but he retains lofty goals.
"I want to discover the fourth massive IOCG in South Australia," he told RESOURCEStocks.
"There's three there already - I'll trade a fourth Everest summit climb for a second Olympic Dam."
Copper Search's founders secured the Peake project in 2017 when the area was under-explored and its analogy to Queensland's Cloncurry region was unproven.
The company (ASX: CUS) listed in September 2021, mid-pandemic, successfully raising A$12 million in an initial public offering to prove up the project.
Copper Search now holds 5,560 square kilometres in what has been described as an emerging copper district.
The company is preparing to drill the first four of its six priority targets, buoyed by neighbouring drilling success funded by copper producer OZ Minerals.
Chessell said the working theory was that the Peake and Denison geological domain used to be attached to Queensland's Cloncurry district - which hosts IOCG deposits including Ernest Henry - before rotating and breaking away.
"So we've got like an escaped piece of Queensland, in South Australia, locked onto the top of the Gawler Craton," Chessell said.
"The rocks are the similar age of intrusions, and that was about 50 million years younger than the big brothers to our south, with Carrapateena, Prominent Hill and Olympic Dam, so it was sort of a little bit overlooked.
"But OZ Minerals funded some exploration along a major structure on the Karari shear zone late last year… two out of two drill holes that intersected basement, hit IOCG copper mineralisation with big alteration systems and disseminated copper sulphides.
"Prospectivity is incredibly enhanced from those drilling results.
"We're in a really exciting new emerging copper district in the top of South Australia."
Solving the jigsaw puzzle
During 2022, Copper Search conducted a comprehensive litho-structural analysis to narrow its exploration focus.
The company drew from sources including the state government's Gawler Craton Airborne Survey, geophysical datasets, mapping and historical drill results.
"It's like unravelling the jigsaw puzzle of how the hell the blocks all fitted together in the past," Chessell said.
"Litho-structural analysis is basically trying to unwind the clock and figure out what were the main structures controlling the mineralisation 1500 million years ago.
"That's where you want to go and focus your effort and attention, on those structural corridors, because that's the most likely place to find an IOCG."
Copper Search has narrowed down 40 geophysical anomalies to six primary targets.
The company has received heritage clearance over all six and was awaiting drill permits at the time of writing for the first four.
"Then we'll be out in the paddock potentially drill testing something like the next Carrapateena," Chessell said.
"Each four of these is a large-scale opportunity for our investors."
Further prospectivity at Peake
In addition to drilling the IOCG targets, expected to start later this month, Copper Search is also on the hunt for secondary mineral systems at Peake.
"We want to go and have a look at other styles of copper in the area," Chessell said.
Copper Search instigated a satellite remote sensing survey to help fast-track targeting.
The company has also conducted a "near-miss" analysis of previous limited drilling results.
There were 28 historical basement drill intersections at Peake, equating to one drill hole per 200 square kilometres.
The company said in IOCG mineral systems, a major discovery could be missed by as little as a few hundred metres and "the importance of recognising a near-miss is critical".
Chessell also said copper mineralisation could also appear in the form of iron-sulfur-copper-gold (ISCG) deposits.
Having re-logged historical drill results, Chessell said Copper Search noticed a lot of alteration, which indicated they could be near-misses of these copper systems.
An airborne electromagnetic (AEM) geophysics survey of 1,500 line kilometres over three zones to identify potential shear-hosted ISCG-style deposits began in early March.
The three areas are Anna Creek, Spring Hill and Mt Denison, where historical workings included the Copper Top prospects, which produced 243 tonnes at 4% copper, to a maximum depth of 35m, between 1890-1904.
"We're doing that in parallel now, with the drilling on the southern half and going up to the north and flying these airborne EMs," Chessell said.
"It's a good mood in the office and out in the field."
Set for success
Chessell said Copper Search was set well for success.
"It's a simple story," he said.
"It's a very focused IOCG exploration company with a tight capital structure, fully funded for 18 months' worth of drilling in a fantastic jurisdiction, in an emerging copper district that's got recent discovery success along structure from some of our primary targets, with a strong board, both from a technical and corporate perspective.
"One of our board members, Dr Tony Belperio, who's on the Technical Advisory Panel, discovered Prominent Hill and was ex-head of the Geological Survey for SA."
The board includes former Programmed boss Chris Sutherland, experienced engineer Peter McIntyre and mining executive Greg Hall.
Chessell said the board members had delivered more than $4 billion worth of shareholder value with various companies in the mineral exploration space.
"So you have a board with strong corporate and technical success and track record of adding significant shareholder value, a 100% ownership of the ground, a simple story, copper, good jurisdiction, heritage clearances are done, compelling drill targets and fully funded - it's pretty simple," he said.
Chessell also pointed out that the tight capital structure, with the top 20 shareholders holding about 66% of the company, meant it was virtually "takeover proof" as merger and acquisition activity picked up in the copper space.
Red metal in demand
Demand is heating up for copper due to its role in the global energy transition - and for copper producers, with OZ Minerals set to be taken over by BHP in the coming months.
"I think demand is going to outstrip supply due to the net zero goals that we've set ourselves as a society," Chessell said.
"We need to produce an extra 10 million tons of copper per annum - we're currently producing about 20 - to meet those carbon goals.
"In the physical sense, we've got to put 47 Olympic Dams into production within 10 years.
"There just aren't enough projects in the pipeline.
"I think copper looks really strong for the short, medium and long term.
"It's a really exciting time to be owning 5,500 square kilometres of the Peake and Denison in an emerging copper district."