Shirley Hayes
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Shirley Hayes

CEO: Ship Copper Company

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‘My vision is to become one of the biggest copper producers on the African continent’

SSHIRLEY Hayes made it happen big time when, after 14 years of effort, her plans to create a viable junior copper mining company in the Northern Cape became reality. In October, SHiP Copper was awarded mining rights over the full 19,200 hectares of ground controlled by operating company Concordia. With that in the bag, Hayes firmed up the corporate and funding side of the business through a reverse merger with Big Tree Copper, run by Jan Nelson.

Big Tree Copper, renamed Copper 360, is to list on the JSE Alt-X board in early February. It will own 100% of Nelson’s dump retreatment operations and 95% of SHiP Copper. The other 5% in SHiP will be owned by the company’s employees. Hayes is chairman and the controlling shareholder, holding a 58% stake in Copper 360. Nelson is the CEO. Copper 360 is already producing copper cathode by retreating oxide surface dump material from the former O’Kiep Company through a plant at Nababeep. Plans are to diversify building a flotation plant in addition to the existing SX-EW plant. The flotation plant will treat sulphide ore to be produced from the 12 mines to be developed on the SHiP Copper ground while the SX-EW plant will continue to treat oxide surface material.

Hayes says she is still going to be working “very hard” over the next five years to grow the business. Plans are to increase production from the enlarged plant to 2,500 tons a year of copper by the end of 2023 and push that to around 8,000t/year by the end of 2024. The potential exists to double that output in the following two years. Copper 360 is in the process of raising R250m to pay for the expansion through the issue of equity.


Hayes is passionate about her Northern Cape roots and her desire to give back benefits to the communities in the region. She was born in Springbok and matriculated from the nearby town of Pofadder. She got into mining through working for the Kelgran Africa Desert Rose granite quarry near Pofadder in 1997 and acquired a blasting certificate in 2001. Hayes then branched out as a mining contractor and operator and eventually got involved in the corporate side of the business through deals to advance her copper project, first with Bernard Swanepoel’s former Village Main Reef in 2015 and then with UK mining entrepreneur Colin Bird via his Galileo operation, which ended in a flurry of litigation.

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