Altona enters into agreement with Ignate for Botswana copper/silver project

9th April 2024 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

London-listed Altona Rare Earths has entered into a binding option agreement with Ignate African Mining concerning the exploration for copper and silver on prospecting licence (PL) 2329/2023, called the Sesana project, in Botswana.

Situated along the Kalahari Copper Belt (KCB) near other significant copper/silver discoveries, the Sesana project is positioned 25 km from the operational Khoemacau underground copper/silver mine.

The region is an active area of exploration for copper/silver and is currently being explored by Khoemacau Copper Mining, Galileo Resources and ARC Minerals.

Under the terms of the agreement with Ignate, Altona holds an exclusive option to acquire up to an 85% interest in the Sesana project. This arrangement involves payments, totalling $110 000 in cash and $250 000 in Altona shares, alongside phased exploration technical and expenditure commitments, spread over four years.

The payment breakdown for the agreement comprises several components. Initially, upon the fulfilment of the final agreement's conditions precedent, a sum of $10 000 in cash, along with $50 000 in Altona new ordinary shares, will be paid to Ignate.

Subsequently, after a span of 12 months from the start of Phase 2, an additional payment of $50 000 in cash and $100 000 in shares will be made.

Lastly, 18 months following the onset of Phase 3, a further instalment of $50 000 in cash and $100 000 in shares will be disbursed.

Additionally, Altona paid an exclusivity fee of $10 000 upon signing the option agreement.

Should a resource exceeding 20-million tonnes at over 1% copper equivalent be defined, the original tenement owner stands to receive a one-time payment of $250 000 in cash and $250 000 in shares.

Following this period, non-funding parties face dilution based on a standard straight-line formula. If their interest falls below 10%, it will be replaced by a 1% net smelter royalty.

The initial phase of exploration will employ a combination of geochemical and geophysical methods throughout the rest of this year. Specifically suited to the KCB context, soil sampling with ionic leach assays will be used owing to the region's sand cover.

Detailed magnetometer surveys are aimed at mapping lithology and structures accurately, while induced polarisation will assist in pinpointing disseminated sulphides for precise reconnaissance drilling plans.

"We are delighted with the option agreement for the Sesana copper and silver project, located in the heart of an emerging copper province where world-class discoveries have already been proven through mine development.

“Furthermore, Botswana is considered one of the best mining destinations in the world and much remains to be discovered,” Altona CEO Cedric Simonet said on April 9.

Recent interpretation of airborne geophysical data has revealed promising geological structures within the tenement, indicating potential for copper/silver mineralisation.

The tenement spans about 274 km2 and is valid until March 31, 2026, with the possibility of two renewals for up to two years each. It encompasses exploration rights for copper, cobalt, gold, silver, lead, zinc, aluminium, chromium, iron, titanium and platinum group metals.

"Past exploration along the KCB has focused on the along-strike extensions of initial discoveries, ignoring some of the numerous parallel folds that recurrently bring the D'Kar/Ngwako Pan formations' contact near the surface.

“Recent interpretation of regional airborne geophysics data clearly shows this contact passing through the Sesana project area, giving us a high level of confidence in its potential,” Simonet said.

The Sesana project lies along the eastern edge of the KCB, a geological feature stretching across Namibia and Botswana. This belt hosts sedimentary copper/silver deposits, typically found at the contact between the D'Kar Formation, comprising reduced siltstones, and the Ngwako Pan Formation, comprising oxidised sandstones. Mineralisation occurs along this contact, influenced by lithology, oxidation states, folding, and associated structures.

Home to the Khoemacau copper/silver mine, which began production in June 2021, the KCB boasts low-cost mining operations. Khoemacau's full production capacity is about 60 000 t/y of copper and 1.6-million ounces a year of silver, sourced from the Zone 5 underground mining operation located about 25 km from the Sesana project.

Adjacent to Galileo Resources' PL039/2018 and in proximity to ARC Minerals' PL135/2017, which is the Virgo copper/silver project, the Sesana project shares a region where a 3-km-long soil anomaly, associated with the D'Kar/Ngwako Pan formations' contact, has been identified.

Recent analysis of regional airborne magnetic data indicates an estimated 10-km-long section of the contact passing through the northern part of the tenement, along the eastern margin of a fold structure, presenting favourable conditions for copper/silver mineralisation.

"The acquisition of the Sesana project is in line with the implementation of Altona's portfolio diversification strategy. This, and the recently acquired Kabompo South critical raw materials project in Zambia . . .  will complement our flagship Monte Muambe rare earths project in Mozambique,” Simonet said.