Mawson West Ltd.
TSX : MWE

July 04, 2011 08:34 ET

Mawson West Announces Positive Feasibility Study for Kapulo Project

PERTH, AUSTRALIA and TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 4, 2011) - Mawson West Ltd. (TSX:MWE) ("Mawson" or the "Company") is pleased to announce positive feasibility study results supporting the development of an open cut mine at its Kapulo copper project (the "Kapulo Project") in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ("DRC"). The feasibility study was compiled by Coffey Mining Pty Ltd. ("Coffey") with the participation and contribution of Sedgman Ltd. ("Sedgman"). Unless otherwise indicated, all figures are in US dollars.

Highlights of the Feasibility Study

  • Proven and Probable Mineral Reserves of 3.6 Mt at 3.6% Copper (Cu) and 8.3 g/t silver (Ag), at $2.50/lb Cu (Shaba open cut only).
  • Average annual production from current reserves of 15.8 kt Cu and 78 koz Ag over a 7.5 year mine life.
  • Processing capacity of 0.385 Mtpa of oxide material or 0.5 Mtpa of sulphide material. Approximately 8% of feed is oxide ore with Cu recoveries of 72% with the remaining 92% of ore being sulphide achieving Cu recoveries in the order of 93%.
  • $69.5 million initial capital cost, with development fully funded from Mawson's existing cash reserves.
  • Anticipated operating costs of $1.97/lb Cu ($1.79/lb Cu exclusive of duties and taxes, depreciation and amortization), excluding silver credit.
  • At $7,975/t ($3.62/lb) Cu, net present value ("NPV") at a 10% discount of $157 million (90% or $141 million apportioned to Mawson) and internal rate of return ("IRR") of 61%.
  • Anticipated 17 month construction schedule starting in July 2011, with commissioning of the process plant scheduled for November 2012.
  • Upside potential as current reserves do not include Shaba underground, Safari North or Safari South deposits and Mawson is in the process of drilling additional exploration prospects along the 60 km Kapulo fault.

The Kapulo Project

The Kapulo project is located in the south-eastern corner of the DRC - Haut Katanga District, Katanga Province, between Lake Mweru and Lake Tanganyika, and approximately 15 km from the Zambian border. The project can be accessed through road infrastructure in Zambia and by air from Lubumbashi via Pweto (50 km from the Kapulo Project site). The Kapulo Project consists of three deposits, being Shaba, Safari North and Safari South. Situated 135 km north-east of Mawson's operating mine at Dikulushi, the Kapulo Project is also governed by the Dikulushi Mining Convention, a mining concession granted by the Government of the DRC on January 31, 1998 and ratified by Presidential Decree on February 27, 1998, which sets out the regulatory and fiscal regime applicable to tenements owned by Anvil Mining Congo SARL, which is in the process of being renamed CMCC SARL ("CMCC") and is a 90% owned subsidiary of Mawson. The remaining 10% of CMCC is held by the Dikulushi-Kapulo Community Foundation Non-Profit Organisation in accordance with the terms of the Dikulushi Mining Convention.

The Kapulo Project will involve a conventional open pit, selective mining exploitation method, employing a mining contractor, using drilling, blasting, 65t to 100t back hoe excavators and articulated haul trucks with a payload capacity of between 40t to 50t.

The process plant has been designed for processing of 0.385 Mtpa of oxide material or 0.5 Mtpa of sulphide material based on conventional comminution, flotation and filtration processes using a primary jaw crusher and secondary cone crusher, ball milling and conventional flotation to produce a copper concentrate. Concentrate will be bagged on site for transport and sale either directly to smelters or directly to metal trading companies.

Capital Costs

Initial capital costs for the Kapulo Project are estimated at $69.5 million. All costs are expressed in Q2 2011 U.S. dollars and no escalation has been assumed in the capital costs. Over the life of the project, there has been allowance of $13.9 million for sustaining capital based on a notional 2.5% of the initial capital expenditure. The initial capital cost estimate is summarized in the table below:

Kapulo Project Initial Capital Cost Estimate

Item Cost ($M)
Process Plant Direct Costs 40.6
Support Infrastructure 5.8
Tailings/Raw Water Dam 3.8
Insurance/Consumables 1.1
Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management 9.6
Contingency 6.6
Sub-total 67.5
First Fill 1.5
Mobilisation Mining Contractor 0.5
Total 69.5

Operating Costs

Life-of-mine operating costs for the Kapulo Project are expected to be $1.97/lb Cu (excluding silver credit) and include all mining, processing, general and administrative costs and product transport and refining costs. The operating costs exclude depreciation and amortization. Exclusive of duties and taxes, life-of-mine operating costs are expected to be $1.79/lb (excluding silver credit). The life of mine operating cost estimate is summarized in the table below:

Kapulo Project Life-of-Mine Operating Cost Estimate

Item Cost ($M) Unit Cost ($/lb)
Contract mining costs 121.4 0.47
Processing costs 128.5 0.50
On site general and administration costs 43.8 0.17
Sub-total 293.7 1.14
Duties and taxes 46.5 0.18
Metal sales and transport costs 166.1 0.65
Sub-total 212.6 0.83
Total 506.3 1.97
Cash cost/lb (net of taxes and duties) 1.79
Note: Detailed costs were estimated by obtaining supplier quotes, from Sedgman's cost database or from Mawson experience in the DRC. Labour costs were determined using remuneration levels supplied by Mawson based upon current labour rates at the Dikulushi operation. Unit power costs of $0.3784/kWh were used based on diesel consumption of 0.26L/kWh, delivered diesel cost of $1.34/L and maintenance cost of $0.03/kWh.

The DRC's corporate income taxes are applicable once sunk exploration costs, acquisition costs and capital costs have been recovered by the project. In addition, under the Dikulushi Mining Convention the project is exempt from taxes for the first 5 years. As such, DRC taxes are only payable for the last two and a half years of the project.

Financial Analysis

Development of the Kapulo Project is fully funded from Mawson's existing cash reserves. Accordingly, the financial model to evaluate the economics of the Kapulo project has been developed as an equity model assuming 100% equity financing.

The base case for the financial model, which assumes an average copper price of $7,975/t ($3.62/lb) Cu over the life of mine and uses a discounted cash flow methodology, is expected to generate revenue of $735 million and pre-tax operating cash flow of $305 million. This results in a NPV at a 10% discount rate of $157 million (or $141 million apportioned to Mawson to reflect Mawson's 90% interest in the Kapulo Project) with an IRR of 61% and a payback period of less than 2 years. Sensitivity analysis indicates that the project is most sensitive to a change in the Cu price, with a 10% change in the Cu price resulting in an approximate 34% change in the NPV.

Mineral Resources and Reserves

The Mineral Resources for the Kapulo Project have been estimated by Coffey, with Steve LeBrun of Coffey acting as the Qualified Person for the calculations. The Mineral Reserves for the Kapulo Project have been estimated by Coffey, with Harry Warries of Coffey acting as the Qualified Person for the calculations. Mineral Reserves for the Kapulo Project have been determined for the open cut portion of the Shaba deposit only and no Mineral Reserves have been determined for either Safari North or Safari South. The Resources and Reserves were developed from the block model. Resources are inclusive of the Reserves. The Mineral Resources and Reserves for the Kapulo Project are summarized in the tables below:

Mineral Resources for the Kapulo Project
(Above a 0.3% Cu Cut-Off)

Classification Tonnes Cu-Grade In-situ Cu Metal Ag-Grade In-situ Ag Metal
(Mt) (%) (kt) (Ag ppm) (Moz)
Shaba
Measured - - - - -
Indicated 5.0 3.6 177.3 10 1.5
Inferred 1.0 2.3 23.2 10 0.3
Safari North
Measured - - - - -
Indicated 1.0 3.4 32.3 7 0.2
Inferred 1.0 2.2 22.0 4 0.1
Safari South
Measured - - - - -
Indicated - - - - -
Inferred 0.4 1.8 7.2 - -
Total Measured and Indicated 6.0 3.5 209.6 10 1.7

Mineral Reserves for the Kapulo Project
Shaba Deposit – Open-cut Only
(Above a 0.3% Cu Cut-Off and Based on $2.50/lb Cu)

Classification Tonnes Cu-Grade In-situ Cu Metal Ag-Grade In-situ Ag Metal
(Mt) (%) (kt) (Ag ppm) (Moz)
Proven - - - - -
Probable 3.6 3.6 128.0 8.0 1.0
Total Proven and Probable 3.6 3.6 128.0 8.0 1.0
Note: Reported above a 0.3% Cu cut-off with 5% dilution applied at zero grade, assuming $2.50/lbCu.

Key Regulatory Requirements

In order to proceed with the development of the Kapulo Project, Mawson must convert its current exploration permit on the project into an exploitation permit and is engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the DRC government for this purpose. As a preliminary requirement for this process, a biophysical and social environment baseline study of the Kapulo Project was conducted by African Mining Consultants between November 2009 and September 2010, and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment ("ESIA") and Environmental Management Plan ("EMP") have been filed with the DRC government and are expected to be approved in the immediate future. The ESIA has concluded that social and environmental impacts can be managed using proven and well understood techniques.

Key Infrastructure Requirements

The key infrastructure required for the development of the Kapulo Project is as follows:

  • The process plant area which includes the mine administration building.
  • The mine services area, including workshops, fuel farm and powerhouse.
  • Explosives storage area.
  • The staff village.
  • The process water dam.
  • The tailings storage facility.
  • Access road from Pweto is currently being upgraded by the Company. The airstrip at Pweto will be used for the foreseeable future as the mine is only 45 minutes by road from the airstrip.
  • Site access roads will require upgrading as part of mine construction.

Additional Exploration Potential

The Company believes that significant additional upside potential exists at the Kapulo Project as current reserves do not include Shaba underground or Safari North or Safari South deposits. Exploration is at an advanced stage at Shaba and Safari North with the resource at Shaba sufficiently defined by drilling for an open pit resource. Further drilling is required to define the depth extents of both resources for potential underground extensions. Safari South has been drilled on a nominal 40m by 30m grid and additional drilling is required to fully define this resource which may prove to join up with Safari North. Mawson is also in the process of drilling additional exploration prospects along the 60 km Kapulo fault. The Company plans to proceed with further resource definition drilling as geophysics completed during 2010 has provided a number of targets for drilling in 2011 and, as such, there is reasonable potential to increase resources within trucking distance of the Kapulo Project.

Qualified Persons

The feasibility study was prepared by leading independent industry consultants, all Qualified Persons under National Instrument 43-101, with the collaboration of Mawson's technical group. In particular, the feasibility study was compiled by Coffey with the participation and contribution of Sedgman. An updated National Instrument 43-101 compliant technical report prepared by Coffey reflecting information in the feasibility study will be filed under the Company's profile on SEDAR. Harry Warries and Steve LeBrun of Coffey, both Qualified Persons for the purposes of National instrument 43-101, have reviewed and approved the content of this press release.

Update on Dikulushi Feasibility Study

The Company also wishes to announce that it has completed its internal feasibility study on exploiting the remaining known in-situ resource at the Dikulushi copper-silver mine. Independent expert review of the study by Optiro Limited of Perth, Australia is currently underway.

Management expects that the independent expert review of the feasibility study will be positive and has been advancing certain preliminary matters to continue development as rapidly as possible. In particular, the principle terms for a mining contract for a cutback have been agreed and mobilisation of equipment to site has started with earth moving expected to commence in early July 2011. Investors are cautioned that because the Company's decisions have not been based on the independent expert review of the feasibility study of Mineral Reserves demonstrating economic and technical viability, these potential developments are subject to uncertainty in relation to economic and technical risks of failure associated with production decisions until the outcome of the independent expert review of the feasibility study is known.

About Mawson West Ltd.

Mawson West Ltd. is an Australian-based copper producer, developer and explorer. Mawson West's focus is on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and its major asset is its 90% ownership of the Dikulushi Mining Convention, which is located in the Katanga Province. The Dikulushi Mining Convention covers an exploration land package of 7,300 km2 and encompasses the Company's two main projects, the Dikulushi copper-silver mine and the Kapulo copper exploration and development project, as well as multiple exploration targets. Mawson West's principal objectives are to expand copper production at the Dikulushi mine, commence copper production at the Kapulo project and further explore the Dikulushi Mining Convention area to identify new targets.

Forward-Looking Information

This press release contains "forward-looking information" that is based on Mawson West's expectations, estimates and projections as of the dates as of which those statements were made. This forward-looking information includes, among other things, statements with respect to the Company's business strategy, plans, outlook, financing plans, projections, targets and expectations as to reserves, resources, results of exploration (including targets) and related expenses, mine development, mine operations, mine production costs, drilling activity, sampling and other data, estimating grade levels, future recovery levels, future production levels, capital costs, costs savings, cash and total costs of production of copper, expenditures for environmental matters, projected life of Mawson West's mines, reclamation and other post closure obligations and estimated future expenditures for those matters, completion dates for the various development stages of mines, availability of water for milling and mining, future copper prices (including the long-term estimated prices used in calculating Mawson West's mineral reserves), end-use demand for copper, currency exchange rates, timing of expected sales and final pricing of concentrate sales and anticipated timing of production at the Kapulo Project. Generally, this forward-looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "outlook", "anticipate", "project", "target", "believe", "estimate", "expect", "intend", "should", "scheduled", "will", "plan" and similar expressions. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause Mawson West's actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, and developed based on assumptions about such risks, uncertainties and other factors set out herein, including but not limited to:

  • Our ability to successfully bring the Kapulo Project into production;
  • Fluctuation in prices of plant, equipment and other capital required at the Kapulo Project;
  • Receipt of all permits required for the Kapulo Project;
  • The ability of our key contractors to perform the services for us in the manner contracted for;
  • The plans currently in place with respect to securing adequate sources of water, power and other infrastructure to the site;
  • The availability and cost of key operating supplies and services;
  • The production facilities may not achieve the planned desired recoveries;
  • Fluctuations in copper prices;
  • Insurance coverage may not be available for certain risks that the company might deem it prudent to insure against;
  • The ability to expand or replace depleted reserves and the possible recalculation or reduction of the reserves and resources;
  • Actual capital costs, operating costs and expenditures, production schedules and economic returns from the Kapulo Project;
  • Geotechnical issues;
  • Mineralogy and block model assumptions;
  • Potential challenges to title to the properties;
  • Inherent hazards and risks associated with mining operations;
  • Inherent uncertainties associated with mineral exploration;
  • Being subject to government regulation, including changes in regulation;
  • Being subject to extensive environmental laws and regulations, including change in regulation;
  • Need for governmental licenses and permits;
  • Political and country risk;
  • Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; and
  • Global financial conditions.

Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions management believes to be reasonable, including but not limited to no material adverse change in the market price of commodities, that mining development and operations will operate in accordance with Mawson West's public statements and achieve their stated outcomes, and such other assumptions and factors as set out herein. Although Mawson West has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Mawson West disclaims any intent or obligations to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, estimates or options, future events or results or otherwise, unless required to do so by law.

Contact Information

  • Mawson West Ltd.
    David Frances
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    61 8 9321-9669
    61 8 9481-2394 (FAX)
    dfrances@mawsonwest.com