African Copper Plc’s standing among investors got a boost on Monday as shareholders of Zambia Copper Investment (ZCI) gave a thumps up approval to a total amount of US 33.4 million loan facility that is aimed to place it in a strong footing.
The┬á move came on the heels of a rally in the company’s share price last week as it surged 25 percent to 75 thebe as it got┬á support from the buoyant copper prices on the international markets.
In a statement issued Monday, ZCI said it “received┬á shareholders approval” to replace the US 7 million bridge loan facility and the US 25.4 million┬á bridge loan facility that it provided in May 2009 for a four year secured credit facility.
The move will mean that┬áthe novice copper miner will have the financial fire power to concentrate on the ore resource that it has found at Dukwi┬á and Thakadu areas without┬á any hesitation.
The Botswana-London Exchange listed company┬á has┬á 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┬á operations,” the company has said.
The company, which┬áhas 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 a notable copper producer.
African Copper was fished-out of the international financial crisis storm by ┬áZCI ÔÇô an investment arm of the Zambian governmentÔÇö ┬áas it was drowning under the effects of the ┬áglobal credit crunch.
African Copper has re-affirmed its ┬áposition 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 ┬ápaves ┬áthe 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.
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,” ┬áAfrican Copper has 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.