Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE)-listed African Copper has moved to implement a number of strategies that will increase production at its flagship Mowana mine, near Francistown.
In a statement , African Copper said that it will install a mobile crushing unit and amend the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) at its Mowana mine to remove bottlenecks hampering the ramp-up to full capacity.
African Copper reopened Mowana mine in August last year after being bailed out by Zambia Copper Investments. Since then the company has reached "encouraging" levels of production in October and November, but lower plant availability impacted on output in December and January.
Jordan Soko, Executive Director of the Company, said:"Starting in late August 2009 we have successfully reinstated production, reaching encouraging levels in October and November.
Since then, the team has moved proactively to identify and address the issues that were accentuated by the rains in December. We're confident that once the mobile crushing unit is in place, we will continue the ramp up towards full capacity."
Copper recoveries increased in October and November, reaching 57.3 percent in November, in line with the company's targeted recovery rate of 57 percent, before declining, together with ore processed, due to lower Secondary and Tertiary plant availability in December and January caused by high crusher liner wear and heavy rain that adversely affected the consistency of the ore and hindered the flow of material from stockpiles.
" In addition, plant throughput was cut by the inability of the horizontal belt filter to consistently handle
The company says management has now moved quickly to address these two bottlenecks that are currently preventing the mine from ramping up towards full plant capacity.
" The company has placed an order for the rental of a mobile crushing unit, which is a quick and cost-effective way to temporarily bypass the Secondary and Tertiary crushing plant while work is carried out to incorporate an improved feed arrangement
for these crushers. "The mobile crushing unit will have a crushing capacity equivalent to the current Secondary and Tertiary crushing plant in order to process the appropriate volumes whilst the primary crusher continues to function well. Delivery and installation of the mobile crusher unit is expected to be completed within four weeks," he said.
The plant produced 4,3-metric tons of concentrate, at an average grade of 1,30 percent copper for 1,19-metric tons of copper contained in concentrate, since recommissioning in late August. Further, African Copper is amending the EMP to migrate from a dry to a wet tailings system.
Scott Wilson RPA Mining group is undertaking design work on the new tailings facility, while the EMP amendment is under way, in order for construction to start as soon as Botswana has approved the changes to the plan. The company expects authorities to approve the EMP amendments in April.