Aim-listed African Copper interim CEO Jordan Soko on Tuesday said that the company’s Mowana, Thakadu and Matsitama assets held “tremendous growth opportunities” for the year ahead.
The company said it had suspended mining activities at the Mowana openpit mine, in Botswana, to focus on the higher-grade Thakadu openpit. Mining activities would resume at Mowana in early 2013.
Copper in concentrate production increased 67% year-on-year during the 12 months ended March, with recovery rates unchanged at 48%. African Copper reported that the recovery rates were expected to improve significantly as it mined deeper in the Thakadu openpit.
“Production in 2012 showed some positive signs. We are now determined to get our mining facilities right so that we can increase our throughput and production to levels that the high-quality assets justify," Soko noted.
During the year, the company spent about $7.9-million on capital upgrades at the plant and expects to progressively realise the benefit of this investment and to increase production as plant efficiency increases in conjunction with feed of higher recovery sulphuric ore.
Despite increased production pushing revenues for the year to March 31 to $42.8-million, from $24.7-million the year before, cost-related issues generated an operating loss from mining operations of $4.6-million.
The Botswana-focused miner said that plant inefficiencies, such as the failure of the pinion shaft and the processing of oxidic ore resulted in the losses.
“Our operating costs per ton remained above budgeted levels. Maintenance costs caused by major component inefficiencies and design upgrades throughout the plant were higher than originally anticipated,” the company said in a statement.