18 January 2013

Namibia: Millions to Roll for Tschudi

Weatherly International is in the process of securing around N$750 million for its Tschudi copper project, enough to fund the entire development of the mine near Tsumeb.

Releasing the AIM-listed company's results for the last quarter of 2012 this week, Weatherly International chief executive officer Rod Webster said the "progression of the Tschudi project is set to transform the company from a junior to a mid-sized copper producer".

Weatherly has signed a financing term sheet with financial investment advisory firm RK Capital for US$88 million for Tschudi. The financing due diligence of the project is currently underway.

Locally, Weatherly Mining Namibia managing director Craig Thomas said Tschudi will "generate important benefits for the Namibian community and the successful execution of the project will help cement Namibia's reputation as an attractive destination for foreign investment in mining".

Once up and running, Weatherly will invest nearly a billion dollars more into the mine over its anticipated lifespan of 11 years.

"The project will create over 500 direct jobs for more than a decade, delivering a welcome boost to Tsumeb and the surrounding area, and will provide training and development for the next generation of Namibian mining industry specialists," Thomas said.

Government, the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) and Labour Investment Holdings (LIH), the commercial arm of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), own more than 10% of all Weatherly's projects in Namibia.

"These Namibian investors will receive direct benefits through their equity ownership on top of the income generated for Namibia through taxation and royalties," Thomas said.

Tschudi will be able to produce about 17 000 tonnes of copper a year. The processing technology used at the mine will result in the production of pure refined copper metal in Namibia for the first time, taking value-addition in the mining industry to the "highest level", Thomas said.

Weatherly is also working on re-opening the Old Matchless Mine. This, Webster said, will "effectively double the production of an asset with an already sound operating base".

Weatherly last year said it intends to invest about N$68 million to re-open the mine, which will push up the company's production by more than 3 000 tonnes a year.

During the fourth quarter of 2012, Weatherly's central operations at Matchless and Otjihase delivered 5 780 tonnes of copper concentrate, which contained 1 328 tonnes of copper. This was lower than production during the third quarter.

"Production was adversely affected by poor mechanical availability and the shorter working month in December," Webster said. However, "mined grades and metal recovery remained strong with cash costs largely unchanged from the previous [third] quarter at US$5 829/t copper", he said.

In total, Weatherly produced 23 032 tonnes of copper concentrate last year, which contained 5 304 tonnes of copper.

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