Embolden by better-than- expected copper grades, African Copper said Friday that it is planning to build a township along the Francistown-Maun highway as it positions itself to move from being an explorer to a miner.
The Botswana-AIM listed outfit ,whose operations at Mowana mineÔÇösome 130 kilometers west of FrancistownÔÇöhave been under care and maintenance since February following the collapse of base metal prices said it was planning to put a township at the settlements of Mosetse and Dukwi. They are expected to start production soon.
“We are talking to the relevant authorities and the plan is that we have to increase the number of staff houses at the plot that we have been allocated,” Acting General Manager of Mowana mine, Toindepi Muganyi, told Sunday Standard.
Under the plan, the township will be replete with the modern amenities and the high street facilities, such as banks, supermarkets, English medium schools for mine employees’ children, among others.
So far, the mine has 50 units of high cost houses at Mosetse village that are expected to house senior staff of the mine. The new development, which is totally the opposite of the original plan of ferrying employees from Francistown, is being motivated by a number of factors.
Some of the factors include better grades and the belief that the ore body is bigger than originally thought.
Some of the factors include the move to try to reduce chances of mine employees being involved in fatal road accidents. Just last month, one of the senior managers at the mine, Mack Zulu, lost his life along the Francistown- Maun road going to work.
Muganyi re-affirmed African Copper position that “it is now seeing an upside” in the copper grades which, according to the new valuations, are 20 percent better than originally thought.
The mine is likely to be commissioned before the end of the year, which will pave the way for the production of 20,000 tonnes of copper per annumÔÇöfrom its initial 1.5 kilometers long strike.
According to the plan, African Copper will initially concentrate on the extraction of ore in the southern tip of the pit which has an estimated 1.5 percent of copper against the pit average of 0.71 percent.
According to the current estimates, the open pit of the mine, which is 20 percent of the ore is expected to be mined in a space of seven years while the remaining part could be between 20ÔÇôto-30 years. Further, there is another proven reserve some 2 kilometers north of the pit while some investigations are ongoing relating to the 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, is also rich in gold and silver. The archeological activities run 30 meters deep and about one meter wide.
African Copper is also working on other areas as Thakadu and some other “blue sky areas” that Muganyi called the “development of another copper belt in the northern Botswana ”.
Thakadu is estimated to have 5 million tons of ore and at a greater grade of two percent. African copper also has about 4000 km2 of prospecting area covering Makala, Matsitama and Nakalakwana which has been described as the target area.