Copper, silver fortune beckons: could it be that the world's most accomplished miners missed what could turn out to be Africa's biggest copper-silver deposit, while an upstart Canadian junior came in and bagged the prize? Tom Nevin reports.

Author:Nevin, Tom
Position:BOTSWANA
 
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Such illustrious explorers as Anglo American, Gencor (now BHP Billiton), Anglovaal, Newmont, De Beers, US Steel Corporation and Delta Gold investigated a site of copper and silver bearing mineral ores in northern Botswana and found only small deposits.

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"But they failed to connect the dots and did not see the big picture," relates Mareck Kreczmer, the chief executive of Canada's junior exploration mining house, Hana Mining, the company that now holds the licences to what could be a deposit of copper and silver of fabled dimensions.

"We believe we have on our hands part of one of the largest copper and silver deposits in Africa and that it can rival the Zambian Copperbelt," says Kreczmer.

"We have identified rich deposits of copper and silver over an area of roughly 2,200 sq km. The Hana area consists of five licence blocks containing widespread sediment-hosted copper/silver mineralisation over a 600km cumulative strike length.

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"It is an extension of the Zambian Copperbelt that continues into Namibia. The site is in the northwest of Botswana north of the town of Maun."

Commercial production

Australian junior, Discovery Metals, is exploring the neighbouring Boseto deposit and has arrived at similar findings to Hana which has now released the results of its first resource estimate for the Ghanzi copper-silver project, showing an inferred resource of 2bn pounds of copper and 34.9m ounces of silver from 60.4m tons.

Discovery's Boseto deposit is also put at 60.4 m tons grading 1.4% copper and 19.5 g/t silver. The Ghanzi copper-silver deposit is similar to the Copperbelt of Zambia and the DR Congo. Kreczmer says it is akin to the renowned Kupferschiefer in Poland and Germany.

Kupferschiefer mineralisation occurs to a vertical depth of at least 700 metres and is open. Hana intends taking a similar extraction route because "opencast is easier to mine and less costly," he says.

Commercial production is planned for 2015, around the same time as Australia's Discovery Metals on the adjacent Boseto prospect. The two operations will be Botswana's only copper and silver producers, although the country has long mined its diamond deposits and, if the potential is realised, will diversify the country's extractive industries' sector.

Exploration chronicle of near misses 1962 Johannesburg Consolidated Investments 1968 Anglovaal, De Beers, Newmont Early 1970s Tsumeb Corp & US Steel JV Late 1970s...

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