JAN 21, 2010 - 02:00 ET
African Copper Plc: Operational Update
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Jan. 21, 2010) - African Copper Plc ("ACU" or the "Company") (AIM:ACU)(BOTSWANA:AFRICAN COPPER) provides the following update on operations at its Mowana Mine after finalisation of the four-year credit facility from Zambia Copper Investments ("ZCI") announced on 18 January 2010.
Key performance details of the Mowana plant for the third and fourth quarter of 2009 are set out in the table below:
Since recommencing operations at the Mowana Mine in late August 2009, the plant had produced 4,344 Mt of concentrate, at an average grade of 1.30% copper for 1,192 Mt of copper contained in concentrate.
Average direct feed ore was mined at a grade of 1.37%, in line with expectations, while the flotation circuits have been performing well when fed with a consistent supply of ore.
Copper recoveries increased in October and November, reaching 57.3% in November, in line with the Company's targeted recovery rate of 57%, before declining, together with ore processed, due to lower Secondary and Tertiary plant availability in December and January caused by high crusher liner wear and heavy rain that adversely affected the consistency of the ore and hindered the flow of material from stockpiles. In addition, plant throughput was cut by the inability of the horizontal belt filter to consistently handle and produce dry tailings.
Mine management has moved quickly to address these two bottlenecks that are currently preventing the mine from ramping up towards full plant capacity. The Company has placed an order for the rental of a mobile crushing unit, which is a quick and cost effective way to temporarily bypass the Secondary and Tertiary crushing plant while work is carried out to incorporate an improved feed arrangement for these crushers. The mobile crushing unit will have a crushing capacity equivalent to the current Secondary and Tertiary crushing plant in order to process the appropriate volumes whilst the primary crusher continues to function well. Delivery and installation of the mobile crushing unit is expected to be completed within four weeks.
In addition, the Company is amending the Environmental Management Plan ("EMP") to migrate from a dry to a wet tailings system. While the EMP is carried out, design work on the new tailings facility is being undertaken by Scott Wilson RPA Mining group with a view to starting construction as soon as the amendments to the EMP have been approved by the Botswana authorities, which is expected during April 2010. During the EMP approval period, the directors of the Company anticipate that that the production ramp up will be unaffected by the tailings issue as wet tailings will be deposited into a temporary impoundment within the envisaged tailings footprint.
The Company is also pleased to report that is has agreed, with effect from November 2009, improved terms with its off-take partner, MRI AG, including payment for copper concentrate on an ex-mine gate basis and reduced penalties on lower grade concentrates.
Jordan Soko, Executive Director of the Company, said:
"Starting in late August we have successfully reinstated production, reaching encouraging levels in October and November. Since then, the team has moved proactively to identify and address the issues that were accentuated by the rains in December. We're confident that once the mobile crushing unit is in place we will continue the ramp up towards full capacity."
This press release contains forward-looking information. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, that address activities, events or developments that the Company believes, expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future (including, without limitation, statements regarding the ability of the Company's action plan, (including the mobile crusher and wet tailings facility) to improve plant performance, the delivery and installation of the mobile crushing unit within 4 weeks, the approval of the EMP during April 2010, that identified bottlenecks are preventing the attainment of full production, the ability to move to full capacity once the mobile crushing unit is in place and the directors of the Company anticipating that that the production ramp up will be unaffected by the tailings issue) are forward-looking information. This forward-looking information reflects the current expectations or beliefs of the Company based on information currently available to the Company. Forward-looking information is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results of the Company to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking information, and even if such actual results are realized or substantially realized, there can be no assurance that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on the Company. Factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, performance of the proposed mobile crusher to process the envisaged volumes, whether the mobile crusher is a cost effective means of replacing the Secondary and Tertiary plant capacity, the effect on current and future production on depositing wet tailings into a temporary impoundment in the envisaged tailings footprint, ability to move to full capacity once the proposed action plan is complete, delivery and installation delays of the mobile crusher, the timing of the approval of the EMP by Botswana authorities, the commencement of construction of the wet tailings facility once the EMP is approved and the other risks disclosed in the Company(C)s most recent annual information form filed on SEDAR at www.sedar.com. All forward-looking information speaks only as of the date hereof and, except as may be required by applicable securities laws, the Company disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise. Although the Company believes that its expectations reflected in the forward-looking information, as well as the assumptions inherent therein, are reasonable, forward-looking information is not a guarantee of future performance and, accordingly, undue reliance should not be put on such information due to the inherent uncertainty therein.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:African Copper Plc
Chief Financial Officer
+1 (416) 847 4866
Canaccord Adams (NOMAD and Broker)
Andrew Chubb/Tarica Mpinga
+44 (0) 207 0506 500
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