The country’s newest mine, Khoemacau Copper Mine, is optimistic about reaching its 2021 target of producing 10,000 tonnes of ore daily and ramping up to 3.65 million tonnes per annum. Last month the mine marked the first shipment of concentrate from its Boseto process plant, located on the Kalahari Copperbelt. The milestone was achieved within schedule and the overall project remains within three percent of the original budget, officials said.
"We are currently producing the highest grade of copper in Southern Africa and we will be exporting weekly as we leverage on the fact that copper is currently doing well in the market due to higher demand," he said.
As of July, the total ore produced is 429 kilotonnes while a total of 111 kilotonnes of ore was crushed and 3,765 tonnes of copper/silver concentrate producing 1,293 tonnes of contained copper, which equals 34.4% copper concentrate.
Since the underground development of Khoemacau’s Zone 5 Mine commenced in early 2020, more than 350,000 tonnes of high-grade sulphide ore has been stockpiled on the surface and is available to feed the Boseto facility. The ore is transported 35 kilometres from the mechanised Zone 5 underground mine to the processing facility through a sealed haul road.
Touching on their prospects, Babusi said the mine production has increased with the expansion of Zone 5 and new mine development at Mango NE, NE and Zone 5 North. Processing capacity has increased from 3.65 million tonnes per annum to approximately eight million tonnes per annum due to the construction of a new concentrator at Zone 5. Beyond the Zone 5 resource, Khoemacau also has access to 76 million tonnes of near measured/indicated and indicated reserves at plus two percent copper and +34 grammes per tonne of silver from surrounding high-grade deposits.
"Studies are underway for replacement tonnages from nearby Mango, Zeta NE and Zone 5 North to feed the Boseto concentrator," Babusi said.
Khoemacau has the capacity to produce 155,000 to 165,000 tonnes of high-grade copper and silver concentrate a year, containing approximately 60,000 to 65,000 tonnes of payable copper and 1.8 to two million ounces of payable silver. The company expects to achieve this production rate in 2022.
The mining and construction workforce onsite peaked at more than 2,300 in late March with more than 92% Batswana employed in the mining, construction and operations teams.