23 November 2012

Namibia: New Lease of Life for Old Matchless Copper Mine

WEATHERLY International PLC intends spending about N$68 million to re-open the old Matchless copper mine near Windhoek, the London-based company said yesterday.

The move will increase copper production at Weatherly’s local operations by more 3 000 tonnes per year.

“Reopening the Old Matchless mine allows us to more than double our production at a mine where we already have a sound operating base. In addition, it allows us to make increased use of the currently underutilised Otjihase concentrator, reducing unit costs,” Weatherly chief executive officer Rod Webster said in a statement.

The old Matchless mine is about 2 km east of Weatherly’s current Matchless mining operations.The mine operated until 1983 when it was closed by then-owners, Newmont, due to strategic and economic conditions at the time.

Weatherly said an independent scoping study of the old Matchless mine showed that it “represents an attractive investment opportunity”.

“At current copper prices and exchange rates (US$7 500 and N$8,5/US$), Lund Mining Services has estimated that the project has a net present value (at 8%) of over US$30 million and an IRR [internal rate of return] of 129%.”

Preparatory work on the old Matchless mine is expected to start soon, Weatherly said. Production will start within 13 months of developing a decline from surface to access the three previously mined ore shoots which are open at depth, and full production is expected within 24 months.

“Ore extraction is planned using both mechanised and hand held cut and fill methods. The old level accesses and the hoisting shaft are to be utilised for ventilation exhaust, dewatering and secondary egress. The first ore is expected to be produced within 13 months of commencement of the decline development, progressively ramping up to nominal 15 000 tonnes of ore per month within two years,” Weatherly said.

The company currently has two copper mines in Namibia, at Otjihase and the new Matchless mines. Weatherly also has a 25% stake in China Africa Resources Plc, which is focussing on the development of the laed/zinc project at Berg Aukas in northern Namibia.

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