Message Mer 27 Fév 2013 15:59

‘Promising’ copper growth in offing – ARM

JOHANNESBURG ( – Exploration drilling is showing high mineralisation down-dip of African Rainbow Minerals’ (ARM’s) newly commissioned copper project in Zambia.

“The mineralisation is nearly double that of the existing project,” ARM CEO Mike Schmidt tells Mining Weekly Online in a video interview (see attached).

While the grade of the copper at the existing Lubambe project is 2.3%, the grade in the second phase is 3.66% for a signed-off resource of 105-million tons.

“That in itself is very promising, and we’re excited about copper in terms of growth,” Schmidt added.

ARM CFO Mike Arnold said in response to questions that half of the company’s R600-million net debt in the six months to December 31 had been invested in Lubambe, as had an $80-million loan raised through a Swiss subsidiary.

The Lubambe copper plant in Zambia was commissioned in October, two months ahead of schedule.

Lubambe is on schedule to produce 45 000 t/y of copper from 2015.

Six exploration drill rigs are deployed in the second-phase area, where 10 535 m had been drilled.

The copper project is being undertaken in partnership with Vale of Brazil and Zambian Consolidated.

JSE-listed ARM is continuing to explore for copper in Zambia and for the past two years has also been drilling for copper and nickel in neighbouring Mozambique.

Its shareholding in Harmony Gold is also providing an opportunity in Papua New Guinea, where Harmony has the Wafi-Golpu copper/gold asset.

“It’s a massive deposit. We want to stay close to it. We have a stake in Harmony and there is an opportunity there that may take us off the continent of Africa,” Schmidt said.

In platinum, ARM sees itself as being ideally positioned, in the first instance, as a consolidator of platinum assets and is currently evaluating a number of platinum options.

Ideally, the farm fences needed to come down and optimisation activated.

“In the short term, there is a potential over-supply in the market. However, there is always potential upstream or downstream integration potential,” he said.

ARM’s Modikwa platinum mine experienced high labour cost increases in the six months to December 31.

“We put about R103-million into Modikwa in the last six months,” Arnold said.

The Two Rivers platinum mine took over 1 660 employees formerly employed by mining contractor Grinaker-LTA.

In coal, the company had a number of coal tenements that could deliver growth but, while the studies for these are well advanced, rail allocations have not yet been finalised.