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In Botswana’s Kalahari, copper is king

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Focusing on mechanised underground mining at Khoemacau Copper Mining in Botswana. Image credit: Leon Louw for Whyafrica

In Botswana’s Kalahari, copper is king

Khoemacau Copper Mining has found its rhythm in Botswana’s Copper Belt.

By Leon Louw

Under layers of sand, the north-eastern flank of the Kalahari Craton in central Namibia and Botswana, hosts what geologists refer to as magmatic arch rock which, they say, contains porphyry-type copper (Cu) deposits.

Overlying the arch rocks (so the geologists say) is the Tsumis Group of rocks which extends northeast from Namibia for hundreds of kilometres into Botswana, where it is known as the Ghanzi Group.

The Tsumis and Ghanzi groups include copper and silver deposits that constitute the Kalahari Copper Belt (KCB).

The belt is 1000km long and in places up to 250km wide. In Namibia, the KCB includes the Klein Aub, Oamites and Witvlei deposits. In Botswana, several mineral exploration companies are probing the Kalahari Belt while production is imminent at Sandfire’s Motheo and Khoemacau Copper Mining is ramping up to full production at its copper and silver mine.

Exploration company Cobre Limited recently released drilling results from their early-stage Ngamiland project close to the town of Ghanzi. The initial results sent their share price skyrocketing on the Australian Stock Exchange a month or two ago. Cobre owns 51% of Kalahari Metals Limited (KML), a private UK company that controls approximately 8,100 km2 of tenements within the KCB in Botswana.

Not far from the Cobre project site, Australian exploration outfit Sandfire Resources is developing the Motheo copper project. Motheo is in an advanced stage of development and Sandfire recently announced that they will spend an additional USD71.9-million to expand the operation.

Sandfire also holds tenements in Namibia and is set to become one of the major copper players in the Kalahari Belt of Botswana and Namibia.

Further north-east from Ghanzi and close to the village of Toteng in Ngamiland, one of the first movers and now a main player in the Kalahari, Khoemacau Copper Mining, has developed the impressive Khoemacau copper and silver mine in the most prospective area of the KCB.

The Boseto mine and processing plant, initially discovered and developed by Discovery Metals Limited (bought by Cupric Canyon Capital in 2015) is an important part of Khoemacau’s operation even though the processing plant with its associated infrastructure is only being used by Khoemacau in the interim. The Boseto processing plant is about 35km from Khoemacau’s Zone 5 new underground mine. I spent a full day on site at Khoemacau during WhyAfrica’s recent road trip to find out more about the first large scale, underground and fully mechanised copper mine in north-west Ngamiland and, for that matter, in Southern Africa.

Subdued Okavango floods

Zigzagging between cattle, donkeys, goats, kudus, and the occasional elephant or two is part of the territory if you sign up to drive through the heartland of Botswana.

It was no different the morning that I left Maun in the last week of my five-week long journey through Southern Africa. Maun is a fast-growing frontier town located on the banks of the Thamalakane River and right on the southern edge of the Okavango Delta wilderness area, a UNESCO heritage site.

When the Cubango River comes down from Angola and spills its water into the delta as the Kavango in Botswana, the people in Maun celebrate. It takes months before the flood makes its way from the Angolan highland through the channels and small rivulets of the delta before it reaches Maun.

This year, the flood was subdued though. Celebrations were put on ice as people waited for the water mass to arrive. Locals were concerned. There were bad seasons before, but this year the flood seemed to be very late. There were even mumblings about drought and global warming; world problems that not many people in this part of Africa often talks about.

Globally it is these mumblings about net-zero, green energy and climate change that have pushed the copper price through the roof on international markets. Copper is used in renewable energy technologies, including solar panels and wind turbines, and can be recycled, which makes it an attractive material in the green economy.

For as long as the copper price remains strong, which is highly likely, development of the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana will be viable. However, unlike the great copper finds in Zambia and the DRC further north and east, and even in central Namibia, Botswana’s ore bodies are buried under layers of sand…

Read the full article in the next issue of WhyAfrica’s Road Trip magazine.

Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in the responsible extraction of natural resources and Africa’s political economy. 

WhyAfrica does research and reports about natural resources and the primary sectors of African economies, and the infrastructure, equipment and engineering methods needed to extract and utilise these resources in an efficient, responsible, sustainable, ethic and environmentally friendly way, so that it will benefit the people of Africa.

Furthermore, WhyAfrica promotes Africa as an investment and travel destination, analyses the continent’s business environment and investment opportunities, and reports on how the political economy of African countries affects its development.         

WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message. WhyAfrica launched its first ever digital magazine in November 2021.

The company will undertake its annual road trip through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the DRC, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya in 2023. If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities, please contact me at leon@whyafrica.co.za. We have a wide range of different packages and combo deals to give your company the greatest exposure to a rapidly growing, African readership.  

The 2022 Southern Africa Road trip issue of WhyAfrica’s magazine is now available in print. The magazine was distributed in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana during WhyAfrica’s 2022 Southern Africa Overland Road Trip, the company’s new and innovative platform. WhyAfrica has expanded its product range and now offers its readers, followers, advertisers, subscribers and partners the following:

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AgricultureEnvironmental Management & Climate ChangeEnergyESGInfrastructureMiningPolitical EconomyTourism and ConservationWater Management