Australia’s Sandfire Resources (ASX: SFR) said on Wednesday it had been granted a mining licence for its Motheo copper project in Botswana’s Kalahari Copper Belt.
The Perth-based miner said the milestone was one of the two major conditions required for finalizing the final permitting process for the A$279 million project.
The Kalahari Copper Belt, which extends for nearly 1,000 km from northeast Botswana to western Namibia, is believed to be one of the world’s emerging but mostly under-explored copper-silver regions in the world.
The 3.2 million tonnes per annum Motheo open pit mine could help Botswana curb its dependence on diamond mining.
The 3.2 million tonnes per annum open pit mine could help Botswana curb its dependence on diamond mining, a sector that accounts for 70% of the nation’s export revenue.
Initial site works at Motheo began earlier this year, with sterilization drilling, a 15km access road and construction of a 200-person camp already well advanced.
Sandfire will now bring additional staff on site to begin construction of the process plant and other infrastructure. The company said that it had already placed orders for all key process equipment and long-lead items.
“We are absolutely delighted to now be in a position to move to full-scale construction at Motheo,” managing director and CEO Karl Simich said in the statement.
“I would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their support throughout the approvals process, which will see Motheo come on-stream in 2023 as one of very few new copper mines commencing production globally,” Simich said.
Second mine in Kalahari Copper Belt
Definitive feasibility work on the T3-Motheo project has previously confirmed production average of 30,000 tonnes a year of contained copper and 1.2 million ounces a year of contained silver over the first decade of the mine life.
Motheo is expected to produce for 12.5 years, generating $664 million in pre-tax cash flows and $987 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization over the first ten years of operations, at a cost of $1.76 per pound.
Sandfire’s mine is the second copper operation in the region. US-based Cupric Canyon began production at its 3.6 million tonnes per annum Khoemacau copper mine in June.