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Copper 360 launching Camborne-modelled mining school in Northern Cape

Copper 360 CEO Jan Nelson interviewed by Mining Weekly's Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

12th July 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Northern Cape copper mining and marketing company Copper 360 is launching a mining school in the Northern Cape, with its eye on how the highly successful Camborne School of Mines in the UK does things.

The mining school idea arose during a discussion at a conference set up by the Department of Minerals Resources and Energy.

One of the speakers asked the professor hosting the session, ‘why don't you start a school of mining like the Camborne School of Mines’ and this is what is now being done, Copper 360 CEO Jan Nelson told Mining Weekly in a Zoom interview. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

Interestingly, when early mining development took place in South Africa, it was Cornish mineworkers who came across from Cornwall to mine here initially, and Cornwall is where the Camborne School of Mines was established in 1888.

Mining Weekly: When will classes begin?

Nelson: Within the next two to four weeks.

Skills development, first and foremost, is Copper 360's immediate target, along with helping to reduce youth unemployment.

"We understand we're not initially going to train mining engineers and confer degrees and diplomas. That's not what we're trying to do. There are good institutions for that.

“But it's the category of people below that, who do not have a skill or a job and, and there's such a lot of opportunity in the mining sector for those people, and that's what we want to highlight.

“This is about transferring knowledge and skills within a short period of time. As an example, you can train somebody as a sampler within three or four months with a certificate, and then that person's got value,” said Nelson.

“We won't then have the frustration internally of absorbing a person and then having to train that person. It will be done at the school and that person then can also go out and go and look for a job but he or she has then got a skill that they can use in the industry.  We're targeting those types of jobs between grade 12 and what you would find in a diploma or a degree,” Nelson explained.

Why do you think that Northern Cape mining has the longevity to host education?

First and foremost, our own activity tells us that this is the next metal province in terms of copper development, and we've got some spectacular drill results that we'll announce soon that show us that there are big copper deposits. Then there is manganese, iron-ore, lithium, cobalt and huge renewable energy potential and the proposed new Boegoebaai harbour is also going to be developed and built in the province. This is on the way to becoming South Africa’s next major economic centre and it’s because of all the minerals we have here, all the activity that's going on, and all the investment we see happening here.

How will the school be funded?

Initially, we will fund the school as part of our social labour and development plan in the community in terms of our mining right. But we’re talking to third parties, such as fund managers and some of our suppliers and we're inviting other mining companies to take hands with us and invest because this can also produce skillsets for other companies in our area. I think everybody should come to the party because skills development is one of the most critical issues in our country.

Will people have to be from the Northern Cape to attend?

Our first target is the people in the Northern Cape province but people can come from other areas and we will make information available on our website where people can follow a link and can apply and send their details.

Concordia town in Namakwa district municipality has been selected as the location for the mining school, which will begin with 40 to 50 students and then build up.


Fast-moving Copper 360, which was formed in November last year following a reverse takeover of copper producer Big Tree Copper and copper miner SHiP Copper, has more than two-million tonnes of copper at its 12 mines, which is estimated to be worth R560-billion.

The Rietberg underground mine alone, which will be brought online by the end of the year, has 25 000 t of copper metal to mine, worth R1.4-billion.

The scramble for copper is on in South Africa and the Northern Cape is the main area of focus, amid a significant global copper shortfall. Copper 360, chaired by Shirley Hayes, had a highly successful and over-subscribed listing on the AltX of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in April. It has 629-million shares in issue, a market capitalisation of R2.5-billion, and its share has experienced considerable liquidity to date, with 15% to 20% in free float.

As the only junior copper producer in South Africa, it has no peer group in the country and its predeveloped resource is positioning the company for advantage over new entrants when it comes to capital expenditure and operational expenditure. The R260-million it has raised in South Africa is confirmed as being sufficient for current expansion.

Focus on simplicity, reliability, high margins and high returns were outlined by Nelson as being positives in its favour in not experiencing any capital raising problems in South Africa for the development of South African mineral assets.

In-house engineering capability plans, designs, pilots and then scales up. Its investors appear to like that model, which generates cash flow fast and results in high margins.

A cluster mining model will be deployed over the 19 000 ha that hosts its 12 mines and 60 prospects, which now have a collective 200-year life-of-mine following the latest drilling success.

It has a centralised modular plug-and-play processing facility at Nababeep and all the sources of ore that feed into it, as well as a solvent extraction and electrowinning, or SX-EW, facility that produces copper plate from rock sources left behind by Newmont and Gold Fields, companies that formerly mined in the area, which was once one of the world’s major copper districts. Newmont developed an underground mine that goes down 2 km. There are more than 30 mines in a tectonic environment of large, forgotten copper deposits.

“We’re just picking that up, putting it through the plant, making copper plates, and then we neutralise our discard, pump it back into the underground holes and fill up all the old underground mines. So, from that perspective, we’re also cleaning up the environment,” Nelson pointed out.

“Our operations are green and clean and the rocks left behind there are some of the rocks we are processing, so no mining is required. This is all the rock that was left behind by Newmont and Gold Fields, running at between 1% and 5% copper.

“We’ve just discovered in our Wheal Julia openpit area we’ve got an area of 150 m by 100 m on surface, running at an average grade of 5% copper, with 9%, 10% and 8% copper on surface.

“We’ve got a couple of these anomalies that we’ll trace up and drill in the next coming months but this certainly will put South Africa back on the map as one of the major copper districts,” added Nelson.

Copper 360’s engineering works is on site and it manufactures and builds most of any plant needed.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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