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African Copperbelt a good mining destination – consultants

N PLAIN SIGHT Chrysocolla and malachite are so prevalent in the Central Africa Copperbelt it can be seen above ground in rock formations

IN PLAIN SIGHT Chrysocolla and malachite are so prevalent in the Central Africa Copperbelt it can be seen above ground in rock formations

3rd December 2021

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer

     

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The Central African Copperbelt is the obvious choice for miners looking to expand their copper portfolios, with the region being known for “world-class” deposits, says mining consultants The MSA Group.

“Mining companies looking for a foothold in the region always focus on two things – prospective geology and a stable operating environment from a legislative and safety perspective,” The MSA Group mining studies head Nevan Pillay tells Mining Weekly.

He stresses that Zambia has long been a stable operating jurisdiction.

Notably, discoveries, such as the Kamoa-Kakula copper deposit, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a project that came into production in May, has also fuelled increased interest in the region.

Kamoa-Kakula is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8-million tons a year, ramping up to 7.6-million tons a year by the third quarter of 2022.

Pillay adds that the DRC, while more challenging, has been known to host richer deposits than the Zambian side of the belt and, as Kamoa-Kakula has demonstrated, high-grade deposits might yet be discovered.

Mine owner Ivanhoe Mines has shown that is it possible to operate in a challenging jurisdiction, if the company makes the right skills available to its team.

In addition to acquiring skilled team members, companies should ensure that there is a base of local knowledge, as it is paramount to a successful development, he adds.

MSA conducted a copper market study for a client in the region late last year, as well as competent persons reports for two junior companies and a tailings study for a client in the DRC.

“We also completed an NI 43-101 technical report for a copper junior in the DRC, which is located along strike of the Kamoa-Kakula project,” notes Pillay.

MSA principal consultant Mike Robertson says there has also been an increase in activity in the West Congo Belt, where exploration and development company Central Copper Resources is aiming to develop the Mbamba Kilenda high-grade copper project.

“This belt was mined during the colonial era, but there’s been very little modern exploration driven by new technology and improved geological understanding.”

The company recently completed a competent persons report on a copper deposit in the West Congo Belt and is conducting a competent persons report and providing exploration services for two projects in the Kalahari Copperbelt.

Pillay adds that, over the past 30 years, MSA’s service offerings have expanded from geological services to mineral resource estimations, mining studies and environmental support.

“At any time, we have teams conducting mineral resource updates, competent persons reports and technical due diligence reports in multiple countries and at multiple operations,” says Pillay.

Meanwhile, MSA’s medium-term plans are to expand its mining studies team and take on more work in the mine design and engineering space.

Pillay states that The MSA Group sees potential for continued growth in the Central Africa region through strategic partnerships and by continuing to provide value-adding consulting services to clients.

“Some of this potential has been realised over the past year, particularly since the relaxation of Covid-19-related travel restrictions.”

He adds that, even during the higher levels of lockdown, The MSA Group conducted competent persons reports and site visits through proper planning, in addition to the implementation of Covid-19 precautions.

Pillay concludes that, by working with reputable companies, partnering with strong DRC-domiciled service providers and assigning experienced team members to projects, the company has continued to successfully produce results for clients in the region.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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