Botswanan Uranium mine given green light
Botswana’s first Uranium mine has taken a big step in becoming a reality, following environmental approval from the local government.
The Letlhakane project, just outside of Francistown, Botswana, is an exploration and resource development project from A-Cap resources. The project will be the first of its kind for Botswana, which is estimated to have 1.04billion tonnes of uranium reserves.
A-cap submitted an application for a mining licence last year and the environmental approval from the government represents a huge step towards receiving said licence.
“This is a major milestone for A-Cap and its flagship uranium project with an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) approval being an important requirement for securing a mining licence,” a statement from A-Cap said.
The Letlhakane project, one of the largest undeveloped uranium deposits in the world, will hold a shallow pit mine with an 18-year mine life.
“We have been conducting extensive work over the years, commencing 2009, in studying and identifying the overall environmental and social impacts associated with developing the first uranium mine in Botswana. The board has ensured the highest standards have been adopted in preparing the Environment Impact Statement,” said A-Cap CEO, Paul Thomson.
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Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.