Less than three years after global copper producer Sandfire Resources approved the development of the Motheo copper mine in Botswana – and just weeks after the mine’s official opening – the Perth-based company has been granted approval for a major expansion project.
The Botswana Department of Mines this week approved Sandfire’s (ASX: SFR) submission for an extension to the Motheo copper mine mining licence, which will see processing capacity increase from the initial rate of 3.2Mtpa to 5.2Mtpa by the end of the December quarter.
With construction and commissioning activities for the 3.2Mtpa Motheo base case project effectively completed on time, Sandfire had previously flagged it was focused on the rapid and low-cost expansion to 5.2Mtpa.
The expansion will contribute to Sandfire’s forecast of increased annualised contained copper production, which is expected to grow to more than 50kt in FY25.
The Motheo expansion project’s design and procurement activities are significantly advanced, enabling the ramp-up in throughput to the expanded rate to occur across the remainder of this financial year.
Sandfire is due to release its FY23 financial result on Thursday.
Sandfire managing director Brendan Harris described the approval from the Botswana government as “a critical step for our newest mine”.
“We look forward to seeing the higher-grade A4 pit contribute to the expanded Motheo mining complex, which is expected to produce more than 50kt of contained copper in the 2025 financial year,” Mr Harris said.
“The robust approvals process for this project was a significant undertaking and I would like congratulate our team for achieving this important milestone – and thank the Government of Botswana and our host communities for their continuing support.”
The expansion approval news is well-timed, just two weeks out from Paydirt’s Africa Down Under conference in Perth.
Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi is due to give the keynote address at the conference, which has traditionally attracted a high-profile delegation of African leaders to Perth each year to reflect ASX companies’ long-standing focus on mining in Africa.
Africa Down Under, now in its 21st year, will next month also welcome senior government leaders from South Africa, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Zambia – countries well known for attracting ASX investor funds.
Not surprisingly, the high-powered delegations will in turn attract the presence of leading ASX-listed, Africa-focused stocks such as manganese producer Jupiter Mines (ASX: JMS), uranium hopeful Deep Yellow (ASX: DYL), gold miner West African Resources (ASX: WAF) and mineral sands play Sierra Rutile (ASX: SRX).