African Copper Plc
TSX : ACU
AIM : ACU

African Copper Plc

July 26, 2005 10:05 ET

African Copper Plc: 'African Copper' or the 'Company'-Dukwe Capital Cost Estimate for SX-EW Design

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - July 26, 2005) - African Copper Plc (TSX:ACU) (AIM:ACU) (BSE:African Copper) is pleased to provide an update on the detailed engineering studies that are underway on its Botswana copper project. The company has received the detailed capital cost estimates for the heap leach SX-EW plant option from our Project Managers Read Swatman & Voight (Pty) Ltd, with Senet CC producing all the process plant designs. In addition SRK Consulting has completed the geotechnical drilling and has commenced pit slope stability studies which will be used in the final open pit design parameters. All consulting firms are located in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa.

A total of approximately US$30 million (2004 estimate: US$26.1 million) has been estimated to be required in direct costs to construct a 350 tph three stage crushing circuit, agglomeration drum with conveyor stacking to the heap leach pad. Leach solutions will be treated through a standard SX-EW plant to produce cathode copper on site. The entire plant footprint is extremely compact (see our website for a site plan) and is based on processing up to 2500 tpd of ore. Contract mining is assumed. Contingencies, owners costs and the cost of an EPCM contract are expected to add about 30% to these direct costs.

A major change in the process infrastructure has been the removal of the acid plant from the project. The optimization study completed in September 2004 indicated that a suitable sized acid plant could be constructed for less than US$10 million, and operated at a cost of about US$70 per tonne of acid produced. At that time the market price for acid in Southern Africa was quoted at $200 per tonne delivered to the mine site, making the construction of an acid plant attractive. Over the past year, the capital and operating costs estimates for the acid plant have increased 25%, and the acid market in Southern Africa has softened. The current estimates for acid costs assembled in conjunction with detailed engineering indicate delivered costs that compare favourably with on-site generation costs when the capital, sustaining and operating costs for the acid plant are considered. After careful consideration of the information provided by the consulting engineering team the Company has determined that the construction of an acid plant does not have the necessary return and that the company will realize greater benefits from a lower construction capital cost

"The Board of Directors is extremely pleased with this capital cost estimate, which is in line with those communicated to the market previously. Management of African Copper continues to drive the Dukwe project towards production as soon as possible to capture current record copper cathode prices." commented David Jones, CEO of the Company.

"We would like to thank our engineering, process and geotechnical consultants for the extremely hard work and persistence that they have shown over the past 3 months."

Detailed operating cost estimates are currently ongoing and are expected to be available to the company in late August. This is approximately 2-3 weeks behind schedule. The critical path for the operating costs includes the final design of the open pit. The current pit design has a 10:1 strip ratio based on minimal geotechnical input. To redress this, SRK Consultants completed a series of 8 geotechnical drill holes which cover the entire width and breadth of the proposed open pit. Final testing of the recovered material is underway, and the final pit design parameters are expected by the middle of August. This work will allow the final pit design to be prepared. Final open pit optimization will be completed during the remaining detailed design stages of engineering.

African Copper is a tri-listed (AIM, TSX, Botswana Stock Exchange) international exploration and mining company. The Company owns the Dukwe Copper Project in Botswana that includes a substantial (18 million tonne) high-grade (about 3.25% Cu) near term production asset. Four drills are currently on-site completing a sulphide delineation program, and a Bankable Feasibility Study on the open-pit portion of the deposit is on schedule for completion later this year. African Copper expects to commence construction of the Dukwe Project in early 2006. The Company's other interests include the 4,000 sq km Matsitama exploration concession adjacent to Dukwe, which contains two other known copper deposits and numerous base metal exploration targets. African Copper has approximately 52 million shares outstanding and Pounds Sterling 13.5 million in cash with no debt.

This document may contain or refer to forward looking information, including reserve and resource estimates, estimates of future production, exploration and mine development, unit costs, costs of capital projects and timing of commencement of operations and estimates of market conditions, and is based on current expectations that involve a number of business risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from any forward looking statement include, but are not limited to, failure to establish estimated resources and reserves, the grade and recovery of ore which is mined varying from estimates, capital and operating costs varying significantly from estimates, delays in obtaining or failures to obtain required governmental, environmental or other project approvals, inflation, changes in exchange rates, fluctuations in commodity prices, delays in the development of projects and other factors. Forward-looking statements are subject to significant risks and uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expected results. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date hereof and we assume no responsibility to update them or revise them to reflect new events or circumstances.

For further information about our properties, to download a copy of our Annual Report, any technical report, our AIM prospectus or to access our Press Release Archive please visit our website at www.africancopper.com.

The TSX Venture Exchange does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release

Contact Information

  • African Copper Plc
    David Jones / Joseph Hamilton
    +44 (0)20 7529 7500
    www.africancopper.com
    or
    Numis Securities Limited (NOMAD)
    John Harrison / Nick Westlake
    +44 (0)20 7776 1590
    or
    Parkgreen Communications
    Justine Howarth / Ana Ribeiro
    +44 (0)20 7493 3713