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Khoemacau gets copper mining licence

BRIAN BENZA
Tsimako
Khoemacau has been granted a mining licence by government and is set to begin construction of its copper mine in Ngamiland early next year.

The company, which is owned by Barclays-backed Cupric Canyon, plans to mine 3.6 million tonnes of ore per annum to produce 50,000 tonnes of copper concentrate.

Speaking at a mining conference, Khoemacau Copper Mining regional manager Johannes Tsimako said the company was awarded a mining licence in March this year and plans are underway to begin construction of the underground mine early 2016.

“Our plan is to develop a greater part of the Kalahari copper belt region in the north- west part of the country.

“Apart from the new mine, we have also tabled an offer to buy Discovery Metals’ Boseto Copper Mine in the same region.

“The plan is to utilise Boseto’s processing infrastructure for the new mine,” he said.

Discovery Metals’ Boseto Mine is currently under provisional liquidation and Cupric Canyon has tabled a $31 million bid for the mothballed mine.

A creditors’ meeting for Discovery Metals is slated for this Friday with the outcome of the bid expected on June 23, 2015.

Tsimako also said government is looking at taking a 15 percent participating interest in the Khoemacaue Copper Mining.

Under the law, government is empowered to take up to 15 percent in a base metals mining venture.

“Government has indicated that it would need a three to six months timeline to make a decision of the 15 percent, from the time of the awarding of the licence in March 2015.

“We are still waiting for them to make a decision,” he said. Botswana currently has two other operating copper mines; African Copper’s Mowana Mine and state owned BCL Mine.

Barclays Natural Resources owns 97 percent of Cupric Canyon, which in turn has a 100 percent shareholding in Khoemacau Copper Mining. Khoemacau is also exploring for copper in neighbouring district of Ghanzi as it aims to fully

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develop the Kalahari copper belt. 

As part of efforts to secure power for the northwest based miners, government is expected to  invite bids for the construction of a 50MW solar power station to supply mines in that area.

Minerals, Energy and Water Resources minister Kitso Mokaila told delegates at the mining conference that plans are underway to invite bidders for the construction of 50MW solar plant in the North-West region and as well as another 50MW in Jwaneng.

“The plant in the North –West regions is to basically support the mining companies in the area. A study identified Jwaneng as the most suitable place for a solar power plant in the country due to sunshine availability. That is why we have decided to split the 100MW project into two parts,” said Mokaila.

A feasibility study carried by the African Development Bank (AFDB) two years ago estimated that it would costs $592 million to set up the 100MW solar power station in Botswana.

The solar plant will not be base load, but would run for 16 hours a day with four hours of thermal energy storage.

A pre-feasibility study in 2008 had identified Letlhakane, Jwaneng, Selebi-Phikwe, Serowe and Maun as receiving the most solar irradiation and fewest obstacles and therefore the most ideal sites for the pioneering solar power station.

The solar power station forms part of a range of initiatives to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and costly diesel-fired power stations.   Despite Botswana’s abundant solar resources, government has been reluctant to implement the project due to its high costs. It is estimated that power from the solar station will attract tariffs as high as P2 per Kilowatt hour (KWH), double the 96 thebe that the coal-fired power costs.



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