Khoemacau Copper Mining says it expects to start mining operations during the first quarter of 2019 following years of exploring the Kalahari copper belt, culminating in the discovery of the Zone 5 north deposit.
The company, previously known as Hana Ghanzi was awarded a Mining License in 2015 and this week Khoemacau Country Manager Johannes Tsimako told delegates at the annual Botswana Resources Sector Conference (BRSC) that the actual copper mining will begin next year.
Khoemacau, whose area of exploration is known as the Zone 5 North deposit in the Kalahari Copper belt, says ever since it got its mining license in 2015 a lot of up front engineering works have been done.
Its mining and exploration licenses cover an area of 4, 000 square kilometres, which expanded after the acquisition of Boseto Mine in 2015. The company has been given a 20-year Mining License with 185 million tonnes of copper resources available for mining.
However, Tsimako told delegates that they have bigger plans going over these 20 years. “We are looking way, way beyond the 20 years,” Tsimako said, adding that the company will produce the first copper concentrate during the first quarter of 2021.
According to Tsimako, Khoemacau is looking to produce in excess of 150 kilo tonnes per year at the Zone 5 North deposit through underground mining. He said this project is where their immediate attention would be and the company will use the Boseto infrastructure which was acquired in 2015 from Discovery Metals.
Tsimako told the delegates that the year 2015 was a year of submission of the feasibility studies while the following year the company carried optimisation work and metallurgical work. Last year, he said, Khoemacau was involved in front end engineering as well as appointment of key staff.
Khoemacau says it expects to complete the fund raising exercise during the third quarter of this year before starting the work early next year. Khoemacau’s plans will be boosted by news that copper prices are expected to be on the increase as demand is also expected to go higher.
Charles Siwawa, CEO of Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM), said on Wednesday that the gap between demand and supply is opening up, which will contribute to the increase in prices of copper going into the future.
He said the expectation is for copper prices to go higher which will be exacerbated by announcement by car manufacturers to start producing electric cars, meaning more demand for the copper mineral.
The copper mining industry in Botswana suffered a setback when key base metal producer, BCL Mine fell in late 2016. This followed the closure of Boseto Copper Mine which was operated by the then Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed miner, Discovery Metals.