The Chief Executive Officer of the fledgling African Copper, Joseph Hamilton, said he is confident that copper price will remain strong going into 2007 and enable his company to take a plunge into its finds at Dukwe mine.
The tall and grey-haired Hamilton, whose company was granted a mining license at the close of last year, spoke to The Sunday Standard from London saying he expected “the copper price to remain strong over the next three years.”
“The global demand for copper remains high and stockpiles of both finished copper concentrate remains tight,” said Hamilton. “We expect the copper price to remain strong over the next three years,” he said.
The copper price sprang to record lows following the intense industrialization of China and India- the two countries which are hungry for the red metal to connect telephone networks and for other industrial purposes.
The two pushed the price of copper to the region of US $ 6000 per ton at the close of last year before sagging three percent on January 4, this year. However, the thinking among industry experts across the world is that that was a temporary measure.
The tri-listed African Copper on Botswana, London and Toronto stock exchanges is planning to bring forward its mining construction plan at Dukwe from 18 months to between a year to 14 months.
“The granting of the mining license for Dukwe project allows us the company to accelerate the construction activities,” he said. “The 12 to 14 months may now begin in earnest. Much of the long-lead time items have been ordered.
“Surface works for the mining area commenced in October 2006. Pipeline construction is almost complete to the site, and 10 kilometers access road has been completed from the Francistown-Nata highway. And the company expects to produce its first concentrate in Q1 (first quarter) of 2008,” he said.
The company was granted a mining license over an area of 10 kilometers at Dukwi ÔÇô which is some 100 kilometers west of Francistown. The mine, which he said has much more life-span than originally planned, has a 12 to 17-year life-span due to the fact that it will be possible to do underground mining.
The flotation concentrator at Dukwe has been designed for a 3000 tonne per day throughput producing approximately 44 million pounds of copper in concentrate at full production. It is planned that initial production will be sourced from the near surface supergene material that can produce a clean and marketable quality concentrate. Locked cycle tests indicated excellent recoveries of 86 percent, using a two-stage sequential flotation.
But the mine is expected to produce about 20,000 tonnes of concentrate copper per annum.
However, the initial projects will have been undertaken and will also be below the then projected costs.
“The open pit portion has an expected life of six ÔÇôto- eight years. Extensive underground resources are expected to extend this life. Indicated underground resources could extend the life to 17 years at current copper prices. The final mining contract is being negotiated now.
“Mining costs are the largest outputs now at the operation. Smelter charges for the treatment of concentrate have being highly volatile over the past two years. Nevertheless, we believe that we can be profitable at spot prices of copper above US $3310 per tonne if the mine utilizes the advanced stripping schedule within the open pit,” he added.
African copper also has about 4000 km2 of prospecting area covering Makala, Matsitama and Nakalakwana which has been described as the target area.
Hamilton last week stated that the ore resource indicated the presence of mineralization which does not support a stand alone mine.