Cupric Africa CEO Sam Rasmussen is optimistic about the prospects of successful operation and draw value from Boseto Copper Mine previously owned by Discovery Metals.
In an interview this week when he was in town to give an update to the media and other stakeholders about Khoemacau Copper Mining - a subsidiary of Cupric Canyon Capital - Rasmussen dismissed concerns that Khoemacau will suffer the same fate as the now defunct Boseto mine which closed earlier this year. Rasmussen said the mine’s main undoing was using the open cast mining technique whereas they will use the underground mining system to extract the minerals.
Rasmussen said they expect to produce about 15 000 tonnes of copper per day and 1.8 million ounces of silver per annum. They will spend about USD 200 million in the Zone 5 Operations where the underground mine is being developed adjacent to the Boseto Operations.
He said following the acquisition of Boseto, they have also taken the Boseto plant under their ownership and would be using it for processing the ore from the Zone 5 operations, adding that the plant will only require a little bit of upgrading from its current status.
Rasmussen said they would double the grade at Boseto mine by using underground mining method and update the existing structure at the mine to suit the current method of mining.
Khoemacau Copper Mining, previously known as Hana Ghanzi, has been exploring the Kalahari copper belt within the Gantsi and Ngamiland districts. Rasmussen was confident that they will eventually get return on investment at the Boseto copper mine which was closed earlier this year resulting in job losses of close to 400 people. They are retaining 30 employees who were tasked with the maintenance care of the mine.
The 30 workers, it has been explained, have been transferred under the employ of Khoemacau as of 1st July 2015.
The other major undoing that led to the closure of Discovery Metals mine in March was the lack of the power grid as the region is currently not connected. However Khoemacau’s country manager, Johannes Tsimako said the government is installing the transmission lines which they expect to be fully operational by 2018.
Tsimako said they are engaging with government to be a stakeholder in the operations. The aim, according to Tsimako, is to have the government hold at least 15 percent of the shares in the local operations. He said it would be a wise move by the government to come on board of Khoemacau Copper Mining even if it doesn’t get the targeted 15 percent.
With regards to the market, Tsimako said the copper market is predominantly Asia with China being the major consumer followed by other countries such as India and other European countries.
Most of the copper produced by the Khoemacau operations will be exported in its raw status thus putting the prospect of beneficiation off the radar. Copper mineral is said to be less valuable than other minerals such as diamonds. Tsimako said beneficiation in the copper sector will be a challenge for some time as the local produce has to exceed a certain amount of production to set up downstream businesses locally.
At full production, which is expected in 2018, Khoemacau will employ about 800 people. However, Head of Human Resources and Communications at Cupric Africa, Claire Calver was non-committal about the idea of re-engaging the redundant workers when the operations resume.
She said there will be consideration to take some of them back but said it will be unrealistic to expect Khoemacau to employ all the previously dismissed workers. Tsimako had earlier said in an interview that they also have a programme in place to train some staff for themselves and said currently they have 30 artisans undergoing training.