Sandfire announces $71.9m expansion of Botswana’s Motheo copper mine

Karl Simich, outgoing CEO, Sandfire Resources

SANDFIRE Resources is to spend an additional $71.9m expanding its Motheo copper project in Botswana to 5.2 million tons (Mt/y) a year, said Reuters.

Citing a presentation by the Australian miner today, Reuters said Motheo was due to come on stream in March next year with initial production of 3.2Mt/y.

The expansion will be achieved through a new processing plant and a new open pit mine located eight kilometres from the existing site.

The development of Motheo underpins the emergence of Botswana’s Kalahari as a new copper producing district. In 2021, Khoemacau Copper Mines produced the first copper-silver concentrate from its Boseto process plant in Botswana.

Sandfire said the including the additional capital expenditure announced today the total investment in Motheo would be $397.4m. Some 47% – about $185.4m – had been spent so far on the project, said Reuters.

Sandfire CEO, Karl Simich said in a statement that the initial project was on schedule for completion in March 2023, which would allow the expansion plan to ramp up immediately following receipt of approvals.

“In parallel with this development, we are also continuing a major exploration campaign both in the near-mine area as well as across our extensive landholding in the Kalahari Copper Belt aimed at defining additional ore sources that can feed into our expanded processing hub at Motheo or support the development of new production centres across the region,” Simich said.

Over its initial 12.5-year mine life, the mine is projected to deliver royalties to the Botswana Government totalling $70m and corporate income tax in excess of $200m. The emerging copper belt could help Botswana diversify beyond its mainstay diamond mining, which contributes 70% to its export revenue, said Reuters.

The Khoemacau Copper Mines has the capacity to produce 155,000 to 165,000 tons of high-grade copper and silver concentrate a year, containing 60,000 to 65,000 tons of payable copper and 1.8 to two million oz of payable silver.