African Copper Plc, the AIM and Botswana listed copper production and exploration company, has announced a production and exploration update for the first quarter of its financial year to 30 June 2014.
The company which owns Mowana Mine, a copper producing open pit project in Botswana, said it was happy with the work done by its contractor at Thakadu pit, which was affected by the previous mining contractor’s low levels of waste stripping.
African Copper’s subsidiary Messina Copper Botswana (Pty) Ltd has then awarded a new long-term contract to provide hard-rock open cast mining services to Diesel Power Mining (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of JSE listed Buildmax Limited in respect of two of African Copper’s existing open pit copper mining operations.
The company said during the three months ended June 2014, ore mined from the Thakadu Pit continued to be affected by the previous mining contractor’s low levels of waste stripping; as a result ore processed only increased marginally to 169,565 Mt from 163,391 Mt in the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2014.
The new mining contractor Diesel Power started mining operations at Thakadu during April 2014, and mining productivity has increased during this quarter with inroads being made to the backlog waste stripping required to expose ore. Improved ore production from the Thakadu Pit is expected during the coming quarter.
“We are pleased with the mining progress that Diesel Power is making at the Thakadu Pit,” Jordan Soko, Acting Chief Executive of African Copper said.
“With improved ore production from Thakadu and more stable operating conditions at the Mowana Plant we are well positioned to increase production levels for the remainder of our financial year”.
African Copper said the plant utilisation and throughput continued to be affected during the first quarter of Fiscal 2015 by the lack of ore available to be transported from Thakadu, and the time taken to accumulate sufficient live ore on the ROM pad for crushing.
“When ore was available from Thakadu, transportation occurred with no problems. Ore processed fluctuated during the current quarter, and copper in concentrate produced increased to 2,703 Mt from 2,515 Mt during the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2014, primarily due to improved ore grade during April and May 2014. Only low grade ore was mined and fed to the plant in June 2014, as waste stripping at Thakadu continued in order to expose high grade ore,” the company added.
African Copper owns the rights to the adjacent Thakadu-Makala Deposit. Both deposits are situated on the highly prospective Matsitama belt, located close to Botswana’s second largest city, Francistown, in the north-eastern part of the country.
For the first quarter of fiscal 2015, the company produced 2,703 metric tonnes of copper in concentrate. Fiscal 2014 is for the year ended 31 March 2014 and Fiscal 2015 is for the year ended 31 March 2015.
The company said ore processed while increasing to 169,565 Mt from the previous quarter’s 163,391 Mt, continued to be affected by a lack of good quality ore from the Thakadu Pit due to the backlog waste stripping required; however the new mining contractor Diesel Power, that commenced operations in April 2014, is beginning to reduce this backlog. Improved ore production from the Thakadu Pit is expected in the coming quarter.
The Mowana Process Plant had above target availability, but variable utilization due to erratic ore supply from Thakadu during the quarter.
Infill drilling in the Thakadu Pit was carried out to allow updating of the Thakadu geological model; and infill drilling started in the Mowana Pit to enable re-categorisation of Inferred resources to Measured and Indicated resources, for incorporation into the Mowana Life of Mine Plan.
The company also said at the Thakadu Open Pit a total of nine reverse circulation drillholes were completed during the quarter to redefine the Thakadu ore body and the Thakadu geological model has been updated based on this drilling.
A reverse circulation drilling programme comprising seventeen drillholes started at the Mowana Open Pit during June 2014. Results will be used to move Inferred Resources to the Measured and Indicated categories, for incorporation into the life of mine plan.
At Matsitama exploration activities during the quarter continued within the PL16/2004 and PL17/2004 prospecting licences, with work focused on the Phute and Nakalakwana targets. At Phute a total of thirteen reverse circulation drillholes comprising 2,170 metres were completed. Low grade mineralisation, 0.4 to 0.8% TCu in the form of sulphides (pyrite and chalcopyrite) and oxides (malachite and chrysocolla) were intersected in both the north and south limbs of the target.
Following a review of soil geochemistry and drillhole data from previous programmes at Nakalakwana West, anomalous targets were tested using reverse circulation drilling. A total of six drillholes comprising 1,051 metres were drilled with traces of pyrite and chalcopyrite seen in the holes. Further geophysical surveys will be used to identify deeper targets in this area. Renewals for extension of the main Matsitama prospecting licences PL14/2004, PL15/2004, PL16/2004 and PL17/2004 were submitted to the Ministry of Minerals, Energy, and Water Resources during the quarter.