As the world moves steadily away from fossil fuels for electrical power production and adopts clean nuclear as the best alternative, we will see the demand for large uranium deposits with significant upside in production such as the A-Cap Resources owned Letlhakane uranium project become an extremely important component of the nuclear builds.
Australian mining company, A-Cap Resources is excited about the large increase of new, better and upgraded uranium resource estimates from its continuing prospecting work at Letlhakane in the Central District, following the completion of a prospecting technical study completed during this year, the company CEO, Paul Thompson said in a statement.
A-Cap Resources is becoming well positioned in this important global demand. The company is reportedly now in a strong position to capitalize on a predicted increase in uranium price going forward as well as completing trial pits and pilot plant work as part of a bankable feasibility study to be completed in the first quarter of 2017. Construction of the mine is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2018.
An important catalyst aiding the expected increase in the uranium price increase is threefold, says A-Cap board chairman, Angang Shen. First, Japan is restoring nuclear reactors after the 2011 accident at Fukushima. Japan alone has an annual usage of 20 million pounds of uranium in its 54 nuclear reactors. Secondly, 66 new nuclear reactors are under construction worldwide, with 50% in Asia. Each reactor will use around 400 000 lbs of uranium per year.
Third, is the anticipated Chinese nuclear build offshore where China has also become the world leader in nuclear plant design and construction and is currently constructing or engaged in nuclear reactor supply contracts in South Africa, Kenya and the UK, with more expected later.
China accounts for two-thirds of all reactors under construction, while South Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan, India and Japan are building new ones. Vietnam, North Korea, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand are all planning new ones.
It appears environmental concerns about uranium and its dangers involves a lot of misinformation because by comparison, coal burning is a 1800 technology that produces a lot of air pollution per kilogram of thermal coal for just 30 mega joules of energy when burnt . Yet you get 500 gigajoules of energy per kilo of uranium, which is over 10 000 more efficacious as a fuel and can be moved in tomorrow if the political will exist, says former A-Cap Resources CEO Andrew Tanks.
According to Shen, the Letlhakane uranium deposit is shallow, soft and amenable to inexpensive open pit mining using a mix of conventional and surface miners. Detailed studies have been completed to understand the effect of utilizing surface miners on the resource and understand the costs and productivity.
Extensive metallurgical test work has demonstrated excellent recoveries from acid leaching and supports a low cost heap leach processing route using solvent extraction to recover uranium. A drilling programme was completed in September 2014 focusing on shallow high-grade zones earmarked for early mining in the project life.
This drilling was designed to test the continuity and mine scale variability of mineralization in three main project areas: Kraken, Gorgon and Serule West, and to provide data for further resource modeling and mine planning. This drilling yielded excellent results and confirmed the presence and continuity of high grade mineralization within these areas.
Further metallurgical test work was completed to optimize the process design and provide geotechnical; geochemical and hydrological data for studies on heaps and waste products. Column leach tests of 2 and 4 meters were conducted at ANSTO labs in NSW, providing the basis for the Projects recoveries and processing costs.
On the other hand, the coal resources on our Bolau and Mea coal tenements add an extra dimension to A-Cap activities in Botswana. A maiden resource was announced at Bolau of sufficient tonnage to support a thermal power venture.
Discussions with third parties are currently underway to decide on the best way to progress these projects. The resource upgrade was completed using localized uniform conditioning (LUC) which takes into account mining and upgrade control selectively.
The drilling programme targeted the early optimized shekels which typically represent the earliest production potential and had highlighted some of the better uranium grade, which would be exploited early in the potential production.
The result of the drilling programme is said, increased confidence in these early production areas within Letlhakane, namely, Kraken, Gorgon South and Serule West. The total areas concerned covers 14 km long and 11 km wide and is divided into the aforementioned main prospecting areas.
The outcomes of the technical study that was disclosed to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on the 12th September 2015, utilized the findings of the 2012 mineral technical resource assessment and findings to determine the results.
“Following the assessment and review, the 2013 resource estimate was found to be unsuitable for mining optimization studies”. In comparison, new prospecting assessment method LUC revealed “a notable grade increase over prior resource estimations due to the incorporation of mining selectivity and the assessment of recoverable grade.
“This is a positive outcome for the economics of the Project and will be used as the basis of future mine schedules, optimizations and financial modeling”, says Thompson. The resources contain more tones and more grades in recoverable proportion.
This year has been one of the most unpredictable in the resource sector in recent memory, where not one or two commodities have dropped in value but almost all have severely declined, says Shen. Most of the company’s important work has been completed at the Letlhakane Unranium Project. An incredible amount of technical work has been completed on the project which has culminated in the submission to the government of Botswana of a mining license application in August 2015.
The company’s planned activities for the 2016 financial year will focus on planning, appraisals and the development of the Letlhakane Uranium Project. A-Cap has successfully secured the funding necessary to complete the feasibility work required for a Mining License Application for the Letlhakane Uranium Project through the financial support of its shareholders.
Following the completion of the feasibility work, the Mining License application was submitted to the Botswana Department of Mines in August 2015, consistent with the Company’s strategy of preparing the project for early development and production so that we can take full advantage of an expected recovery in the uranium market and the forecast increase in the price of uranium.
“We have been successful in securing the funding necessary to complete the feasibility work required for a mining license application for our Letlhakane Uranium Project”. The current price of uranium has been flat, but A-Cap fully expects the Uranium market to turn.
With Japan restarting their nuclear program, commencing with the Sendai No. 1 Reactor, coupled with an additional 66 new nuclear. A-Cap has positioned itself to have the project ready to take advantage of a forecast supply shortage and a rising uranium price.
The technical study required for the Mining License application comprehensively incorporated all of the work completed to date, providing a strong framework for the development of the project, based on shallow open pit mining and heap leach processing to produce up to 3.75 million pounds of U3O8 per annum over an 18 year plus mine life.
The results of the study indicate encouraging project economics in a rising uranium market and highlight a number of distinct advantages with competitive CAPEX and OPEX cost estimates.
The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) was completed and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in May 2015 in line with the Botswana Government requirements. All major infrastructures is in place with the project located adjacent to a main highway, railway line, national power grid with water supply already identified and permitted, and enabling capital costs to be kept to a minimum.
Shen says the Letlhakane Uranium Project is one of the world’s largest undeveloped Uranium Deposits. The Project lies adjacent to Botswana’s main North-South infrastructure corridor that includes a sealed all-weather highway, railway line and the national power grid, all of which make significant contributions to keeping the capital cost of future developments low.
In August 2015, A-Cap submitted the Mining License application for PL 45/2004 (Letlhakane) to the Botswana Department of Mines. The application was based on the results of a technical study and financial modeling.
The technical study was based on shallow open pit mining and heap leach processing to produce up to 3.75 million pounds of uranium per annum over a mine life of 18 years, incorporating the most up to date metallurgical results and process route, optimized mineral resources, mining, capital and operating costs developed by feasibility specialists in Australia and internationally.
The technical study confirms that the Project has the right mix of a good resource, low capital and operating costs and is well positioned to be taken into early production, reaping the benefits of projected shortfalls in supply in the uranium market and forecast rising uranium prices.
The outcomes of the technical study released to the market in September 2015 highlighted the following: Positive economics based on forecast uranium average contract price Initial construction CAPEX of US$351 million Initial working capital of US$40 million, Pre-tax NPV of US$383 million at a discount rate of 8% and IRR of 29% Operating costs of US$35/lb U3O8 over first 5 years, approximately $40/lb U3O8.
The Technical Study results and production targets reflected in this annual report are preliminary in nature as conclusions are drawn partly from indicated mineral resources and partly from inferred mineral resources. The Technical Study is based on lower level technical and economic assessments and is insufficient to support estimation of ore reserves or to provide assurance of an economic development case at this stage, or to provide certainty that the conclusions of the Technical Study will be realized.
There is a low level of geological confidence associated with inferred mineral resources and there is no certainty that further exploration work will result in the determination of indicated mineral resources or that the production target itself will be realized.
The Bulb World Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and entrepreneur, Ketshephaone Jacob has been selected as a 2021 Top 50 Africa’s Business Hero.
Jacob was chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants – many of whom are highly-skilled and accomplished entrepreneurs.
Africa’s Business Hero, sponsored by technology entrepreneur, Jack Ma, aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems, and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.
The initiative is as inclusive as possible and applications were open in English and French to entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors, and all ages who operate businesses formally registered and headquartered in an African country, and that have a 3 year-track record.
Every year, finalists are selected to compete in the ABH finale pitch competition and participate in a TV Show that will be broadcast online and across the continent.
The finalists will compete for a share of US $1.5 million in grant money.
The Bulb World, is home grown LED light manufacturing company, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017.
The Bulb World operate from the Special Economic Zone of Selibe Phikwe. Early this year, The BulB World announced its expansion to South Africa, setting in motion its ambitious Africa expansion plan.
During the first quarter of 2021, production in Botswana’s economic nucleus- the mining sector contracted by 12 percent. This is according to Mining Production Index released by Statistics Botswana this week.
The country’s central data body revealed that Index of Mining production stood at 74.4 during the first quarter of 2021, showing a negative year on-year growth of 12.0 percent, from 84.6 registered during the first quarter of 2020.
The main contributor to the decline in mining production came from the Diamonds sector, which contributed negative 11.7 percentage points. Soda Ash was the only positive contributor in the mining production, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point. However Soda Ash’s contribution was insignificant to offset the negative contribution made by Diamonds.
The quarter-on-quarter analysis by Statistics Botswana experts shows an increase of 16.3 percent from the index of 64.0 during the fourth quarter of 2020 to 74.4 observed during the period under review.
Diamond production decreased by 12.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The decrease was as a result of planned strategy to align production with weaker trading conditions mostly linked to Covid-19 protocols restrictions.
Botswana’s diamond sector is underpinned by Debswana, the country’s flagship rough producer- a 50-50 joint venture between government and global mining giant De Beers Group. The other producer is Canadian based Lucara Diamond Corp through its wholly owned Karowe Mine which is a relatively small but significant production that has made a name for itself worldwide with rare diamond recoveries of unprecedented carat size.
On the other hand, quarter-on quarter analysis shows that production has improved, registering a positive growth of 17.5 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the preceding quarter – 2020 Q4.
Though production was significantly lower in the first quarter, the two producers ended Q2 with rare diamond recoveries. Debswana early last month found the world’s third largest gem diamond – weighing 1098 carat at Jwaneng Mine, its flagship gem quality diamonds producer, also regarded the world’s richest diamond mine.
A week later Lucara announced its second biggest recovery, the 1174 carat clivage near-gem dug from its Karowe Mine. The diamond is the world third in carat size after the plus-3000 carat Cullinan found in South Africa back in 1905 and the 1758 carat Sewelo unearthed at its Karowe mine in 2019. Debswana and Lucara are investing billions of pulas in underground mining projects to extend the life of its mines, Jwaneng & Karowe respectively.
In terms of Gold which is produced at Mupani mine near Botswana’s second city of Francistown output decreased by 17.9 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.
Similarly, quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that production decreased by 21.4 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the preceding quarter. The decrease was as a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine as well as the impact of COVID-19 which slowed down the mining activities.
Soda Ash production increased by 11.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. In terms of quarter-on-quarter Soda Ash production also showed an increase, picking up by 2.1 percent during the period under review. The increase in production is attributable to the effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.
Salt production decreased by 34.0 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that salt production registered a decrease of 32.9 percent during the period under review. Both salt and Sodash are produced by partly government owned Botswana Ash (BotsAsh) operating from Sowa town near Makgadikgadi pans.
Coal production decreased by 11.2 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The decrease was attributed to the reduced demand from Morupule B Power Station following the remedial works being undertaken, as one boiler was in operation during the period under review.
Although production fell, Statistics Botswana says there was no shortfall in supply of coal due to stockpiling. On the other hand, the quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that coal production increased by 20.4 percent compared to the preceding quarter.
Botswana’s flagship coal producer is Morupule Coal Mine; a wholly state owned mining company located in Palapye producing primarily for Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s power generation plants Morupule A & B.
The other coal producer is Botswana Stock Exchange listed Minergy which operates a 390 MT Coal Resource mine in Masama near Media in the southwestern edge of the Mmamabula Coalfields.
Department of Mines in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security has awarded mining licence to Tshukudu Metals-a subsidiary of Aussie firm Sandfire Resources ,giving the company a green light to start piecing the ground at its Motheo Copper Project near Gantsi.
Lefoko Moagi, minister in charge of mineral resources in Botswana confirmed to weekendpost on Tuesday. Minister Moagi revealed that “the licence has been approved , but Sandfire Resources as a listed company will report to its shareholders and investors then make an official public statement” he said.
Based on a forecast copper price of US$3.16/lb (reflecting current long-term consensus pricing) the Base Case 3.2Mtpa – Ghantsi copper project is forecast to generate US$664 million (over P7 billion) in pre-tax free cash-flow and US$987 million (over P10 billion) in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation), at a forecast all-in sustaining cost of US$1.76/lb over its first 10 years of operations.
In December 2020, the Board of Sandfire Resources approved the commercial development of the Motheo Copper Mine located in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana, marking a key step in its transformation into a global, diversified, and sustainable mining company.
Tshukudu Metals Botswana (Pty) Limited (Tshukudu) a 100% owned subsidiary will be the owner and operator of the Motheo Copper Mine which is scheduled to produce up to 30,000 tonnes per annum of copper in concentrate over a 12 year mine life.TMB is targeting development of its Motheo Copper Mine in 2021 and 2022, with its first production in 2023.
GOVERNMENT NOT TAKING UP 15 % STAKE ON OFFER
Beginning of this year presentations were made to the Department of Mines as part of the Mining Licence approval process and to the Ghanzi Regional Council, additional information was requested by Department of Mines in April and was duly supplied by the company.
As part of the Mining Licence approval process, the Government of Botswana has a right to acquire up to a 15% fully contributing interest in all mining projects locally. Quizzed on whether government through Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDCB) would be taking up stake in the project Minister Moagi said, “No consideration is being made on that regard”.
“Government is not considering taking up a stake in the Ghantsi Copper Mine project, every opportunity is assessed on all risks, but Government makes money all the while from leases, taxes and royalties, remember if you take stake you are liable for liabilities of the project as well,” Moagi said.
Last month Sandfire announced that it has awarded over P5 billion worth mining contract to African Mining Services (AMS), a subsidiary of Perenti, to deliver the open cast operation.
The contract, which has an estimated value of US$496 million (over 5 billion), is the largest single operational contract for the new Motheo Project covering a period of 7 years and 3 months, with provision for a one-year extension.
The contract according to Sandfire Resources was awarded following a competitive 3-stage tender process which saw a number of key factors taken into consideration when selecting the preferred contractor.
These included Citizen Economic Empowerment, safety culture, equipment suitability and availability, commercial terms and identified improvement opportunities. Under the terms of the contract, AMS has agreed to form a 70:30 Joint Venture with a suitable local Botswana partner or partners.
The JV is expected to be finalized ahead of commencement of mining in early 2022. African Mining Services has been operating in Africa for over 30 years. AMS’ parent company, ASX listed diversified mining services group Perenti, already has a presence in Botswana through Barminco, their underground mining division, at the large-scale Khoemacau Copper Mine located 200km north-east of Motheo.
Last month Sandfire executives said the award of the open pit mining contract represents another key milestone in advancing the Motheo Project towards production, with all components of the contract in line with the key parameters outlined in the December 2020 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS).
The company said full-scale construction of the US$279 million (over P 3 billion ) mine development is expected to commence immediately upon receipt of the Mining Licence, with mining scheduled to commence in early 2022 ahead of first production in early 2023. This week Sandfire Resources advertised over 10 positions in calling on applications from geologists, mining engineers and geotechnical engineers.
The Motheo mine has an initial mine life of 12.5 years based on production from the T3 pit. The initial development is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 600 direct full-time jobs during operations, with at least 95% of the total mine workforce expected to be made of up of Botswana citizens.
Later in the week Sandfire Resources announced in the company website that it has received the licence. Sandfire’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr Karl Simich, said the award of the Mining Licence represented a major milestone that would see a significant increase in construction and development activities on site.
“We are absolutely delighted to now be in a position to move to full-scale construction at Motheo, with our construction crews expected to mobilise to site over the next few days. 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 the project is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during construction and 600 full-time jobs during operations, and represents the foundation for Sandfire’s long-term growth plans in Botswana.
“Our vision is that Motheo will form the centre of a new, long-life copper production hub in in the central portion of the world-class Kalahari Copper Belt, where we hold an extensive ground-holding spanning Botswana and Namibia,” he said.