Botswana’s new copper mine Khoemacau aims to start production at the end of this month with first sales expected in the third quarter of the year, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
Situated in the Kalahari Copper Belt, which stretches from northeast Botswana to western Namibia, the Khoemacau mine will be the only operational one in the diamond-rich country after two other copper mines were placed under liquidation.
“The first concentrate will be produced after completing the commissioning work and introduction of ore into the processing facility … which is planned to be completed towards the end of June,” Chief Executive Johan Ferreira told Reuters in an emailed response.
The company, which is owned by U.S. private equity firm Cupric Canyon, plans to produce between 25,000 to 28,000 tonnes of copper metal and between 790,000 to 810,000 ounces of silver metal in 2021.
Later on, it plans to ramp up output to annual full capacity of 60,000 tonnes of copper and 2 million ounces of silver.
Most of Khoemacau’s production will be destined for export, with off-take agreements having been mostly agreed and first shipments of concentrate expected early in the third quarter of the year, Ferreira said.
Ferreira said despite current high copper prices Khoemacau had no immediate plans to increase production beyond the current installed capacity as its priority is to sustainably produce concentrate of the right quality and volumes while ramping up to full capacity.
Prevailing high international copper prices will be a boon for Botswana as preferred bidders have been identified for the closed two copper mines, while Australian Sandfire Resources has already set aside $259 million to fund the construction of another new mine in the Kalahari Copper Belt.
(By Brian Benza; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Steve Orlofsky)