African Copper, the Botswana-London Exchange listed company, ┬áhas pledged to deliver a possible northern copper-belt for Botswana from its concession area that might play a pivotal role on the country’s ambitions of hosting the African Commodities Exchange.
“We are currently doing some exploration within our concession area and looking forward to applying for a mining licence for┬á Thakadu. Other exploration sites are at Nakalakwana ┬áand Phuti and we think with that there is a huge potential for northern copper-belt with some of the blue sky operations,” Acting general Manager for Mowana mine, Toindepi Muganyi said.
African Copper, which has a huge concession area in the northern parts of the┬á country, is using its Mowana mine ÔÇô near Dukwi villageÔÇösome 130 kilometers west of Botswana’s second biggest city of Francistown, as its springboard towards production.
The African focused copper explorer aiming to graduate to the level of a producer┬ásoon has had its Mowana mine under care and maintenance┬á since February this year when bruises of the global economic downturn started to show on its balance-sheet.
The company has been rescued by Zambia Copper Investment (ZCI)ÔÇöan investment arm of the Zambian governmentÔÇö- to the tune of US $ 41 million.
Muganyi said as part of the build-up to northern copper-belt there┬á are hoping to commission the Mowana mine┬á in the near future as test runs for most of the plant machinery have proven to be successful.
Further, there have engaged┬á small contractors in the┬á cleaning up and┬á digging of the pit in a bid to drive the cost down on the balance-sheet.
Muganyi further┬á re-affirmed┬á African Copper position that “it is now seeing an upside” in the copper grades at its Mowana mine ┬áwhich, according to the new valuations, are 20 percent┬á better than originally thought.
The┬á mine is likely to be commissioned before the end of the year, which will pave the way for the production of┬á 20,000 tonnes of copper per annumÔÇöfrom its┬á initial 1.5 kilometers long strike pit.
According to the plan, African Copper will initially┬á concentrate in the extraction of ore at the Mowana mine on ┬áthe southern tip of the pit which has an estimated 1.5 percent of copper grades against the pit average of 0.71 percent.
According to the current estimates, the open pit┬á of the mine, which is┬á 20 percent of the┬á ore,┬á is expected to be mined in a space of seven years while the remaining part could be between 20 ÔÇôto -30 years. Further, there is another proven reserve some 2 kilometers north of the pit┬á while some investigations are ongoing relating to southern side of the pit which is also thought to be having some copper.
The pit, which covers some of the historical mining activities believed to have been done by the Europeans some 500- 700 years ago, ┬áis also rich in gold and silver. The archeological┬á activities run 30 meters deep and about┬á one meter wide.
African Copper is also working┬áon other┬á “ blue sky areas”┬á that could┬á add up to what Muganyi called┬á the “development of┬á another copper belt in the northern Botswana”.
The┬á budding miner, which is thirsty to push its brownish base metal┬á through the throats of the marketsÔÇöon ┬áa five year off-take arrangementÔÇösaid it is currently engaged in an Environmental Impact Assessment ( EIA) study aimed at leap-frogging its aims of opening Thakadu mine.
Thakadu is 70 kilometers south-west of┬á Mowana mine, which is the┬á bell weather of┬á African Copper’s┬á intended exploits in Botswana.
“We are in the process of doing┬á EIA at the moment which I think ┬áwill be complete┬á in about┬á two-and-half months,” Acting General Manager of Mowana mine, Toindepi Muganyi, said.
So far, Thakadu is the richest find within the basket of African Copper finds┬á with┬á 5 million┬á tones copper resource at┬á two percent compared to Mowana mine ┬áwhose average copper grade is at 0.71 percent.
“The life-span of Thakadu open pit┬ámine will be┬á three years at 2.5 million tonnes,” Muganyi said, adding that┬á there is an┬á upside of going underground but emphasized that it will operate as a satellite mine.
Trucks will have to ferry the ore from Thakadu to the crushers which are based at┬á Mowana mine.
He said┬á if the Thakadu mine licence were approved by the authorities (Department of Mines) the move┬á is likely to push┬á African Copper to a point where it will be the pioneer of the northern copper belt in Botswana. Its concession area is closer to that of Discovery MetalsÔÇöan Australian base metal explorer with concession area, Dukwi, Maun and Selebi Phikwe areas.