Australia’s Sandfire Resources has unveiled plans to invest a further $71.9m to expand output at its Motheo copper mine in Botswana.

This decision follows the completion of the firm’s definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the expansion, including the development of the A4 Deposit and an expansion of the Motheo processing plant.

The study affirmed the ‘strong business case’ for the A4 Deposit, which is the first satellite deposit to the Motheo mine, as part of an expanded 5.2Mtpa Motheo Production Hub plan.

By March 2023, the mine is expected to produce 3.2Mtpa of copper. This capacity is planned to be further expanded to 5.2Mtpa through a new processing plant and a new open-pit mine.

The project development is estimated to cost $397.4m, including future development costs for the A4 Open Pit and 5.2Mtpa plant expansion.

Expansion of the Motheo mine is said to form part of Sandfire’s efforts of setting up a major new long-term copper mining hub in the Kalahari Copper Belt.

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Sandfire managing director and CEO Karl Simich said: “The international team that is delivering the 3.2Mtpa project will seamlessly transition across to the 5.2Mtpa development project, including A4 mining development and process plant expansion.

“In parallel with this development, we are also continuing a major exploration campaign both in the near-mine area as well as across our extensive landholding in the Kalahari Copper Belt aimed at defining additional ore sources that can feed into our expanded processing hub at Motheo or support the development of new production centres across the region.”

The Botswana Government holds the right to acquire up to a 15% fully contributing interest in the A4 Deposit as agreed at the granting of the mining licence.