Modern Mining

ASX-listed MOD Resources, in conjunction with its joint venture (JV) partner, AIM-listed Metal Tiger, is moving at speed to develop its flagship T3 deposit in the heart of Botswana’s Kalahari Copperbelt and believes the project – planned as an open-pit mine – could enter production either late in 2019 or early in 2020. A presentation on the project was given at the recent Botswana Resource Sector Conference (BRSC) by Julian Hanna, MOD’s Managing Director, and his colleague, Kebalemogile Tau, Exploration Manager for Tshukudu Metals, the Botswanan operating subsidiary of the joint venture.

Addressing delegates at the conference, Hanna said the JV had made excellent progress since the T3 discovery was made in March 2016 in an area with no previous drilling. By September an in initial resource of 28,3 Mt at 1,24 % copper (Cu) and 16 g/t silver (Ag) had been declared while in December 2016 the results of a highly positive Scoping Study were announced. A Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) was launched early this year and should be complete by November.

T3 discovery well on the wayDrilling at the T3 site in Botswana. The T3 discovery was made in March last year.

In parallel with these activities, the JV established a Botswana managed and staffed company, Tshukudu Metals Botswana, last year as the ‘in-country’ operating company to develop T3 and further explore the JV’s extensive landholding within the Kalahari Copperbelt. The Chairman of the new company is Boikobo Paya, a geologist by training and a former Permanent Secretary of Mines in Botswana’s Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, while the Country Manager is Gaba Chinyepi, a geology graduate of the University of Western Australia and owner of a geological consultancy in Botswana.

Hanna said that MOD, which holds 70 % of the JV, and Metal Tiger, which has the balance, had received strong support from the market with approximately 200 million Pula having been raised from Australian, UK and North American investors over the past several months. He added that all the money raised was “going straight into the ground here in Botswana.”

Putting the Kalahari Copperbelt in context, Hanna said the copper mineralisation in the area was sediment hosted, under shallow sand cover and similar in many respects to deposits in Zambia and the DRC on the Central African Copperbelt. He noted that the copper grade was generally in the range of 1,3 to 2 % and that testwork had indicated that the ores could produce high quality and high grade (approximately 40 % Cu) concentrates. The Kalahari Copperbelt was, he stated, a rapidly developing copper region with around 7 Mt Cu in current resources, mostly within adjacent licences held by Cupric Canyon, the US-based company which is the only other major player in the area, and at T3.

Exploration drillers play a key role in the development of any minerals project and no more so than in the case of T3. Hanna, in fact, went out of his way during his presentation to commend the efforts of Discovery Drilling, whom he described as “wonderful supporters of the project since day one”. The company has had up to seven rigs deployed at T3, employing around 100 Motswana.

Hanna also noted that the project area in the Ghanzi District of north-western Botswana was easily accessible from Maun and Ghanzi with the asphalt-surfaced, approximately 300 km long, Ghanzi highway linking the two centres running centrally through the tenements. He pointed out that electrical power was not anticipated to be a problem as the grid was expected to be extended into the area in 2019/2020.

Kebalemogile (KB) Tau elaborated on the geological setting of T3 and the potential for satellite deposits within the 60 km long structural T3 Dome. He also noted that an airborne electromagnetic survey (AEM) had been initiated to fast track exploration along the T3 Dome. This survey, undertaken by NRG Geophysics using a state-of-the-art collection and processing system, has since been completed with MOD announcing on 6 July that preliminary results were “very encouraging”.

Tau also briefed delegates to the conference on other targets within the tenements controlled either by MOD or the JV, including: the T1 (Mahumo) deposit; the T20 prospect, a large prospective dome near Ghanzi in the south-western portion of the tenements which extends through to the Namibian border; the T4 prospect, where an early intersection returned 6,1 % Cu and 111 g/t Ag over 2 m; and T5, an approximately 10 km long interpreted magnetic intrusion.

Prior to the T3 discovery, the Mahumo deposit (discovered in 2011) was the main focus of MOD’s efforts in Botswana and a Scoping Stage on a Stage One underground mine at the site – with a projected ore production of up to 40 000 tonnes/month – was completed in 2015. MOD has now given T3 priority but remains committed to the potential to develop Mahumo, possibly as a satellite of T3, with work on a PFS expected to start in 2019.

While Mahumo is best tackled by underground methods, T3 is amenable to open-pit methods and the Scoping Study on the project noted, in fact, that the wide and continuous zones of shallow dipping mineralisation were ideal for low-cost, open-pit mining. The mining study portion of the Scoping Study was conducted by Sound Mining Solution of South Africa.

As detailed in the study, the pit design enables a staged mine development delivering an annualised ore mining rate of 2 Mt/a with the first stage targeting shallow high grade ore with the objective to pay back capital within two to three years. The production target is 18,13 Mt of ore at 1,16 % Cu and 13,9 g/t Ag for a total of 201 kt Cu and 6,1 Moz Ag. Total mine life is approximately 10 years with 9,25 years of ore production.

Perth-based engineering consultant Min­novo was responsible for reviewing processing options, which resulted in a conceptual plant design for a flotation plant and associated infrastructure constructed on site at T3. The proposed plant design is relatively simple and conventional, reflecting the favourable metallurgical characteristics of T3 ores.

The process consists of crushing and grinding of the ore followed by sequential rougher and cleaner flotation. Concentrate will be thickened, filtered and stockpiled prior to being loaded into containers for storage and subsequent transport to smelters. The plant has the potential to be up-scaled to around 3 Mt/a in the event production is increased at T3 or additional ore is sourced from satellite deposits in the region.

According to the Scoping Study, estimated metal in concentrate production for the first three years is 22 kt/a Cu and 660 koz/a Ag, with a LOM average of 21,8 kt/a Cu and 665 koz/a Ag. The study estimated the capital cost of the project at US$135 million.

T3 could ultimately transition into being a much bigger project than envisaged in the Scoping Study given the encouraging results from exploration in the immediate T3 area and further afield. Particularly significant was the announcement by MOD in February this year that a 75 m zone with multiple intervals of copper sulphides had been intersected at T3, starting at 247 m downhole depth, approximately 35 m below the T3 resource. A resource upgrade for T3 is expected shortly.

If T3 does become a mine, it could be the first operation – if one discounts the now defunct Boseto mine – to exploit the Kalahari Copperbelt although this is by no means a certainty as Cupric Canyon, via its subsidiary Khoemacau Copper Mining, is also looking to start up its Zone 5 underground mine in 2019 or 2020. Between them, the two proposed mines have the potential to put the Kalahari Copperbelt on the map as a significant copper producing district, small on a world scale but important for Botswana in its attempts to diversify from its current over-reliance on diamonds.

Report by Arthur Tassell, photos courtesy of MOD Resources

Download the pdf.


Name change for the T3 project

Although our article here refers to the T3 deposit and T3 project, it should be pointed out that a new name for the project – as opposed to the deposit – is in the process of being adopted. The name selected – Motheo (‘Foundation’) – was the winning entry in a local school competition.


 

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