GABORONE – Mowana Mine, Botswana's only operating copper mine, has suspended operations due to working capital constraints which has seen the company fail to pay salaries and suppliers, it said on Tuesday.
Mowana had a conditional $4-million working capital facility from Fujax Minerals and Energy Limited, from which it had drawn down $1-million. However Mowana and Fujax could not agree over collateral when the mining firm wanted to drawdown the rest of the facility, the company had said in a previous statement. "We thought it would only be fair to suspend operations while we try and explore other ways of securing the funding. Our hope is that the situation will be resolved soon and we can be able to restart operations," Mowana's general manager, Dominic Doherty, said.
Mowana Mine, which has a production capacity of 12 000 t/y, is 60% owned by Aim-listed Cradle Arc. Cradle Arc reopened Mowana in 2017 after the mine went into liquidation in 2015. Copper prices on the international market have been recovering but Mowana mine, which employs 411 workers, has failed to capitalise on the gains due to equipment breakdowns.
In October 2018, the mine produced 140 t of copper compared to management's original forecast of 392 t as production was impeded by production stoppages. Botswana, Africa's largest diamond producer, only has Mowana as its sole copper producer after the government owned BCL mine went into liquidation in 2016 sending over 5 000 workers home.