African Copper Plc

African Copper Plc

September 17, 2008 02:00 ET

African Copper Mowana Mine Update

- Concentrate currently being stockpiled for commencement of first shipment during September - Mining to date shows higher mixed ore at better grades than previously modelled - Increased presence of supergene mineralisation should provide overall improved recoveries - Further optimisation of mining plans and ore reserves ongoing

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 17, 2008) - African Copper Plc ("African Copper" or "the Company")(TSX:ACU)(AIM:ACU)(BOTSWANA:AFRICAN COPPER) is pleased to provide shareholders with an update on the progress at the Mowana open pit mine in Botswana.

The commissioning of the mill is in its final stage following the successful resolution of some issues with the mill's bearings and lubrication system during the commissioning process. Concentrate is currently being stockpiled for commencement of first shipment during September. High grade ore is now being put through the mill and the engineering, procurement, construction and management contractor is currently undertaking the completion guarantees and will hand over the mill to African Copper during September 2008. The period from the start of construction to final commissioning has been less than 24 months.

The mining operations, which commenced in January 2008, continue to perform well with over 850,000 tonnes of ore stockpiled, including 300,000 tonnes at 1.74% copper as at 8th September 2008. This represents approximately 9 months of production, based on the mill capacity of 1 million tonnes per annum.

The mining operations have now exposed ore along a 1.5 kilometre strike within the pit and have shown an increased presence of supergene (high grade Chalcocite) mineralisation at shallow depths, compared with the geological resource model which had anticipated primarily oxide mineralisation at these elevations. For information on the geological resource model see Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve Estimates included in the report entitled "National Instrument 43-101 Technical Report On The Mowana Mine, Botswana" dated 26 November 2007 by Read, Swatman & Voigt (Pty) Ltd. (the "Technical Report"), which is available on or on the Company's website.

As a result of the increased presence of supergene mineralisation, the mixed ore grades encountered are higher than the oxide mineralisation grade predicted in the geological resource model. The current operational strategy allows the segregation of stockpile ore into a high grade direct mill feed stockpile and a Dense Medium Separation ("DMS") plant feed stockpile.

African Copper has also recently undertaken a reconciliation exercise between the geological resource model and all the blocks mined to the end of July 2008. This indicates that higher ore grades are being mined, primarily due to presence of mixed ore and operational grade control measures.

Modelled Mined
Tonnes Grade Copper Tonnes Grades Copper
Units Units
Direct Feed 439,455 1.16% 5,084 224,031 1.78% 3,892
DMS 418,089 0.22% 903 487,660 0.62% 3,020
Total Ore 857,544 0.70% 5,987 711,691 0.97% 6,912
Total Net
Gain (Loss) -17.0% 39.1% 15.5%

A further in-pit reconciliation of the 980mL bench in the south of the pit confirms the above trend and has indicated lower ore tonnages (27% decrease) but a significant increase (57%) in contained copper as a result of higher grades.

The impact on the operation of a higher amount of mixed ore at better grades than previously modelled is threefold. Firstly, due to the higher grades in the DMS stockpile material, the Company is considering bringing forward the introduction of a DMS plant from 2010 to the third quarter 2009, which is part of the detailed mine review underway and, if proceeded with, will require additional financing. Secondly, higher input grades to the DMS will result in improved mill feed grade from the DMS. Thirdly, the increased presence of supergene material will result in the direct mill feed having approximately 25% higher overall recoveries than the oxide recoveries previously modelled.

African Copper will carry out a full mass balance reconciliation as mined material is processed through the plant which is expected to lead to a re-assessment of Mowana's mineral reserves and resources. This will be integrated into the mine plan that is currently under review.

This press release has been prepared under the supervision of James Arthur, FSAIMM, the General Manager of the Mowana Mine and a "qualified person" within the meaning of Canadian National Instrument 43-101 - Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects. Mr. Arthur has verified the data disclosed in this press release.

This press release contains or refers to forward-looking information, including statements regarding estimates and/or assumptions about the first shipment of concentrate, the Company's plan and expectations with respect to bringing forward the introduction of the DMS plant to the third quarter of 2009, the Company's beliefs and expectations with respect to obtaining improved mill feed grade from the DMS plant, the Company's expectations with respect to realizing improved recoveries, the Company's expectations of completing a full mass balance reconciliation and reassessment of the Mowana Mine's mineral resources and reserves, potential mineralization, potential mineral resources and reserves, mine development plans, recoveries and timing of the commencement of operations, and is based on current expectations that involve a number of business risks and uncertainties. Actual results may vary from the forward-looking information contained herein. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking information include, but are not limited to, uncertainty regarding failure to convert estimated mineral resources to reserves, the possibility that actual circumstances will differ from the estimates and assumptions used in the mining plan for Mowana Mine (there is no certainty that the production schedule, recoveries and/or operating costs proposed will be achieved), the grade and recovery of ore which is mined varying from estimates (including, in particular the inferred mineral resources included in the mine plan not being recoverable at the grade and/or volume used in the calculation of estimated operating costs), the capital and operating costs varying significantly from estimates, political risks arising from operating in Africa, uncertainties relating to the availability and costs of financing needed in the future (including to build the DMS plant and complete the development of the Mowana Mine), changes in equity and/or debt markets, inflation, changes in exchange rates, fluctuations in commodity prices, delays in the development of projects and the other risks involved in the mineral exploration and development industry. When used in this press release, words such as "schedule", "could", "plan", "anticipate", "estimate", "expect", "believe", "intend", "will", "may" and similar expressions are forward-looking statements.

Although the Company believes that its expectations reflected in this forward-looking information are reasonable, such information involves risks and uncertainties and no assurance can be given that actual results will be consistent with this forward-looking information. Forward-looking information is subject to significant risks and uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expected results. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. This forward-looking information is made as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update it or to revise it to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.

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Contact Information

  • African Copper Plc
    Alex Buck
    Investor Relations
    +44 (0) 20 7244 8053 or +44 7932 740 452
    Numis Securities Limited
    John Harrison
    Nominated Adviser
    +44 (0) 20 7260 1000
    Numis Securities Limited
    James Black
    Corporate Broker
    +44 (0) 20 7260 1000