Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting is strengthening its presence in South America with a $185 million investment in Ecuadorian copper-gold exploration.

The mining arm will acquire a 49% stake in six mining land parcels in northern Ecuador, with the majority owned by the government-owned mining company.

The move complements Hancock's existing exploration near the Cascabel copper-gold project in Ecuador.

Rinehart is expanding her mining portfolio in South America, with investments in Brazilian Rare Earths (ASX:BRE) and a $1.7 billion deal with Chile's SQM for Azure Minerals (ASX:AZS), holding a controlling stake in the Andover Lithium and Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project in the Pilbara.