Mawson West Limited is an Australian-based copper producer, developer and explorer with a focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mawson West's focus is on the Democratic Republic of Congo ("the DRC") and its major asset is its ownership of the tenements which are governed by the Dikulushi Mining Convention and held by its 90% owned subsidiary Anvil Mining Congo SA ("AMC"). The tenements cover a land package of approximately 7,300 km2 and encompass the Company's two main projects, the Dikulushi copper-silver mine ("Dikulushi Mine") and the Kapulo copper exploration and development project ("Kapulo Project"), as well as multiple exploration targets. The Dikulushi Mining Convention is a mining concession granted by the Government of the DRC on January 31, 1998 and ratified by Presidential Decree issued on February 27, 1998, which sets out the regulatory and fiscal regime applicable to these tenements. Under the Dikulushi Mining Convention, AMC is guaranteed sole and exclusive rights for exploitation of projects governed by the Dikulushi Mining Convention.
Mawson West commenced its activities in the DRC in April 2006 when it entered into a farm-in agreement on the Kapulo Project with Anvil Mining Ltd ("Anvil"), the previous owner of AMC, which gave Mawson West the right to earn a 65% interest in the Kapulo Project by spending $4.0 million on exploration within four years. The Company's subsequent exploration work on the Kapulo Project in 2006, 2007 and the first half of 2008 resulted in Mawson West defining over 200,000 tonnes of contained copper. By October 2008 the Company had completed its required expenditure and earned a 65% interest in the Kapulo Project.
In April 2010 the Company acquired Anvil's 90% interest in AMC, being the registered owner of the tenements governed by the Dikulushi Mining Convention, as well as 100% of Anvil Mining Zambia Ltd (now renamed CMCZ Ltd). As AMC is also the owner of the Kapulo Project, the acquisition of AMC also resulted in Mawson West increasing its interest in the Kapulo Project from 65% to 90%. Throughout this period, the Company continued with exploration on the Kapulo Project, including infill, metallurgical, hydrogeological and geotechnical drilling, analysis and test work, and regional exploration.
Following its acquisition of AMC, Mawson West began refurbishing the Dikulushi Mine processing plant and commenced treating the low-grade (1.2% copper) stockpile located at the Dikulushi Mine in July 2010. The processing was commenced on a trial basis to ensure that the plant was fully operational before a contemplated transfer of the plant to the Kapulo Project, and to test whether processing of the low-grade stockpile could be profitable. Profitability of the processing was confirmed taking into account the then current commodity prices. Processing of the low-grade stockpile was completed in February 2012.
Following some exploration success at various satellite deposits around Dikulushi and determining potentially viable options for further production from the Dikulushi deposit, a decision was made to continue to operate the Dikulushi Mine and to establish a new plant at Kapulo.
In July 2011, the Company committed to the development of the Kapulo Project and commenced site earthworks and camp construction at Kapulo shortly thereafter. The Kapulo Project involves the development of an open pit mine. Proved and Probable Mineral Reserves at Kapulo are 3.6 million tonnes at 3.6% copper and 8.3 grams per tonne silver (Shaba open pit only). According to the definitive feasibility study ("DFS") relating to the Kapulo Project, the average annual production from Mineral Reserves was expected to be around 15,800 tonnes copper and 78,000 ounces silver, with a life of mine of over 7.5 years, utilizing a plant with a 0.5 million sulphide ore tonnes per annum capacity. The plant is now being designed and built with a processing capacity of 0.444 million tonnes per annum of oxide ore or 0.6 million tonnes per annum of sulphide ore. Commensurate with the higher processing rate (0.6 million tonnes per annum), annual copper production is expected to be in the order of 19,500 tonnes with a mine life of 6 years. This is currently the subject of a review with a Mineral Reserve update for Kapulo scheduled for release in Q4 2014.
Following positive feasibility study results on the cutback expansion of the Dikulushi Mine, the Company committed to the development of the Dikulushi open pit in August 2011. Proved and Probable Mineral Reserves at Dikulushi as at September 2011 were 539,000 tonnes at 6.1% copper and 182 grams per tonne silver. The Company completed mining the Dikulushi open pit in July 2013 and approximately 85% of the Mineral Reserve was mined through open pit mining methods.
In July 2013, the Company was granted an exploitation permit in relation to the Kazumbula and Kabusanje deposits. Which are located approximately 15 kilometers from the Dikulushi Mine. In June 2014, the Company announced total Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources at Kazumbula and Kabusanje of 551,000 tonnes at 1.74% copper and 45.7 grams per tonne silver, above 1% copper cut-off grade to 80 meters below surface. An economic review of the Kazumbula and Kabusanje deposits commenced during Q3 2014.
In November 2013, the Company made a decision to commence underground mining at the Dikulushi Mine and announced underground Mineral Reserves of 173,000 tonnes at 5.2% copper and 127 grams per tonne silver. Production from Dikulushi underground operations commenced in February 2014.