Dineo Faku

AFRICAN Copper, a base metals subsidiary of ZCI, yesterday posted higher output for its first quarter to June and forecast an improvement for the September quarter at its Thakadu pit in Botswana as backlog waste had been reduced.

ZCI, a copper producer and exploration company, owns 73.4 percent of African Copper, whose key asset is the Messina copper project in Botswana.

African Copper’s production of copper in concentrate rose to 2 703 tons in the quarter to June from 2 515 tons in the previous quarter, primarily due to improved ore grade during April and May, ZCI said.

Although processed ore rose to 169 565 tons in the quarter under review from the previous quarter’s 163 391 tons, production continued to be affected by poor-quality ore from the Thakadu pit because of need to strip backlog waste.

A new mining contractor, Diesel Power, had started work to reduce the backlog from April, and production from the Thakadu pit was expected to strengthen in the coming quarter, the company added.

“With improved ore production from Thakadu and more stable operating conditions at the Mowana plant, we are well positioned to increase production levels for the remainder of our financial year,” Jordan Soko, African Copper’s acting chief executive, said.

The Mowana processing plant in Botswana was hit by the erratic ore supply from Thakadu in the June quarter.

Copper produced in concentrate for the first quarter dropped by 12.1 percent and volume processed decreased by 6.4 percent from a year earlier.

Plant utilisation and throughput continued to be affected during the first quarter by the lack of ore available to be transported from Thakadu, and the time taken to accumulate sufficient live ore on the run-of-mill pad for crushing.

Low-grade stockpile ores were processed in June as a result of the lack of Thakadu ore available while waste stripping activities were ongoing.

Following a review of data from previous exploration programmes at Nakalakwana West, targets had been tested. Traces of pyrite and chalcopyrite were seen when six drillholes were drilled.

Further geophysical surveys would be used to identify deeper targets in this area.

ZCI sought legal and commercial advice aimed at restructuring the group following a strategic review last year. ZCI was in the process of evaluating and appointing advisers after an evaluation process, it said in its annual report.