June 7, 2018 / 3:04 PM / in a year

Cupric Canyon to start construction of Botswana copper mine in October

GABORONE, June 7 (Reuters) - Private equity firm Cupric Canyon will begin construction of its Khoemacau copper project in Botswana in October, with first sales of the metal expected in 2021, a company executive said on Thursday.

Sparsely-populated Botswana is the world’s top diamond producer by value, but the government of the southern African country is trying to diversify the economy to reduce its dependence on the gemstone.

Johannes Tsimako, a manager of the Khoemacau project, said he expected to see, “first concentrate delivery to the market in three years.”

Tsimako said initially the project would produce 60,000 tonnes of copper a year, increasing to about 100,000 tonnes a year by 2023.

Cupric Canyon expects the underground mine to also produce 2 million ounces of silver a year over 20 years.

Construction of Khoemacau was meant to start last year, but it was held up by delays in acquiring environmental permits as well as uncertainty around power supply.

The project will be Botswana’s only operating underground copper mine after the closure and liquidation of BCL mining group in 2016. Cradle Arc, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange AIM sub-market, operates the country’s only open cast copper mine, Mowana. (Writing by Alexander Winning Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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