Copper 360 unpacks expanded production plan for Rietberg

30th November 2023 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Copper 360 unpacks expanded production plan for Rietberg

JSE-listed emerging miner Copper 360 is poised to ramp up production quickly albeit at higher costs than originally planned, having redesigned its mine plan for the Rietberg mine, in the Northern Cape.

The company narrowed its loss attributable to shareholders from R31.6-million for the six months ended August 31, 2022, to R4.9-million in the six months ended August 31 this year.

Copper 360’s loss has narrowed as production ramps up and capital expenditure comes to an end. The post-period acquisition of Nama Copper Resources further ensures the company remains on track to deliver significantly improved production with a major reduction in execution build and delivery risk.

The 2025 financial year will see the company target earnings in excess of R650-million together with major resource upgrades to improve mining flexibility and growth.

Commenting on the company’s achievements in the six months under review, CEO Jan Nelson says the significant increase in the mineral resource at the Rietberg mine required the team to rethink and redesign the processing plant and mine.

The latest measured and indicated mineral resource statement confirms 60 800 t of contained copper.

The net effect of the company’s increase in mineral resources was that contained copper production could be increased from 3 899 t of contained copper to 7 975 t of contained copper. This more than doubles production from copper concentrate and such a massive increase in copper production left us no choice but to change the plan.

“The fact that we could do this and remain within our delivery timeframe is a testament to the resilience and competency of our entire team. The modular flotation 1 was therefore changed to only process copper sulphide ore from Rietberg and the decision was made not to process any copper slag,” Nelson explains.

This results in higher recoveries and better grades, in turn, resulting in increased production without any increase in processing capital spend.

“We were however required to increase capital spend on Rietberg mine by R95-million.

“This decision was not a difficult one to motivate in the light of copper concentrate contribution – in terms of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation for the 2025 financial increasing from an original forecast of R360-million to R570-million as the mine would yield about 496 000 t/y of ore compared to 120 000 t/y originally,” Nelson notes.

Meanwhile, Copper 360’s acquisition of Nama Copper provides the company with a sulphide processing plant capable of milling 240 000 t/y, for 3 595 t of copper production in the 2025 financial year.

Together with the first modular flotation plant under construction, the second modular flotation plant gained from Nama will take Copper 360’s steady state production capacity to 7 975 t/y of contained copper concentrate.

As of August 31, Copper 360 spent R120-million of capital expenditure on the Rietberg mine and processing plant, with the Rietberg mine redesign requiring additional capital expenditure of R160-million.

By adding a third modular flotation plant during the last quarter of the 2025 financial year, Copper 360 is working towards producing total contained copper of 16 821 t/y by the 2026 financial year, compared with 9 7 89 t in the 2025 financial year.