Perenti Global Ltd says its surface mining business in Africa, African Mining Services (AMS), has been awarded the contract for open-pit mining services at Sandfire Resources’ Motheo copper project in Ghanzi, Botswana.
The contract, which is yet to be finalised, has an estimated value of $496 million over an initial seven-year-and-three-month term with a provision for a one-year extension.
Under the terms of the Mining Services Contract, AMS will identify a suitable local Botswana company or companies as a joint venture partner for the project and transition to the joint venture before the commencement of mining in early 2022.
Finalisation of the contract is contingent on the satisfaction of two primary conditions, namely Sandfire being granted a mining licence for the project; and finalising the terms of the Mining Services Contract.
Perenti Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Norwell, said Motheo represented a game-changing growth opportunity for AMS and will substantially increase Perenti’s presence in Botswana.
“Growing our footprint in Botswana is aligned with our 2025 strategy, to further expand into stable mining jurisdictions and pursue quality projects. The benefit of adding Motheo to the Perenti project portfolio is the opportunity to leverage our existing in-region operational presence at Zone 5 (owned by Khoemacau Copper Mining) as well as partnering with Sandfire to develop Botswana’s next large-scale, highly productive, world-class copper mine.
“The Motheo project is another positive step in the ongoing transformation of our AMS business as we seek to create value and certainty for our client Sandfire and the Ghanzi community.”
Motheo is in the Kalahari Copper Belt, an emerging and relatively underexplored copper producing region. It is around 200 km to the southwest of the Khoemacau Zone 5 project, where Perenti, through its subsidiary Barminco, is currently engaged to undertake underground mine development works.
Motheo is held through Sandfire’s subsidiary, Tshukudu Metals, and was approved for development by Sandfire’s Board of Directors in December 2020 following completion of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) on a base case of a 3.2 Mt/y operation with expansion potential.
The DFS outlined an initial 12.5-year operation, underpinned by an updated ore reserve of 39.9 Mt at 0.9% Cu and 12.2 g/t Ag for 360,000 t of contained copper and 15.6 Moz of contained silver, producing on average circa-30,000 t/y of contained copper and 1.2 Moz/y of contained silver over the first 10 years of operations.
Perenti Mining Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, said: “Through this commitment and the establishment of a local joint venture partnership, we expect that more than 95% of the workforce will be citizens of Botswana. Furthermore, and leveraging our existing Maun based state-of-the-art mining training centre, our workforce will have access to the latest mining techniques and technology to enable the creation of a safe, highly skilled and productive workforce to support economic growth and diversification within Botswana.”
Muller said the company was also excited by the opportunity to deploy “future-focused mining technology initiatives” on the project that not only provide expected productivity and safety benefits to Sandfire but are also aligned with the two firms’ sustainability goals.
Perenti anticipates pre-production work to commence in late 2021 with mining to commence in early 2022.