What’s next in the Kalahari Copper Belt?

Looking forward, a key operational milestone for Kavango will be a drilling programme on its licences in the Kalahari Copper Belt, which sits in the north of Botswana.
The targets on offer could potentially be very rich, as companies operating on nearby tenements have already demonstrated.
Indeed, the exploration efforts that led to the discovery of the T3 project, now owned by Sandfire, and the Khoemacau project, which was recently brought into operation by Cupric Canyon, have really put Botswana on the map for copper.
Prior to these exploration and development successes, investors tended to look north in Africa for major copper exploration and discovery opportunities – specifically to the more famous Copper Belt straddling the borders of Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
But it takes a special sort of expertise and a lot of financial muscle to operate successfully in the DRC, and Zambia as a jurisdiction also has its challenges.
So, the emergence of Botswana as a serious copper destination has been welcomed in mining circles, and not least by us as a Botswana specialist.
At Kavango, we’ve long touted the attractions of operating in Botswana. But historically, the country has been more well known for its diamond prospectivity and its partnership with DeBeers.
Kavango doesn’t have any direct exposure to diamonds, but it does have the diamond industry to thank for helping Botswana familiarise itself with the ways and requirements of the mining sector. Investors will know that this is a two-way street. Botswana is no pushover, and has an extremely robust deal with De Beers.
On the other hand, the country is very keen to promote projects in other commodities to provide economic strength in depth, both in terms of exports and local employment.
So, it wasn’t just the mining industry that hailed the opening up of a new copper district in Botswana – the government did too.


Breaking new ground

The Kalahari Copper Belt runs broadly in a north-west to south-east direction, and trends across central northern Botswana and into Namibia.
Following the successful work on T3 and Khoemacau, many small mining companies have moved into the area. But Kavango has one of the largest landholdings, comprising 12 licenses and amounting to around 5,000 square kilometres of ground.
All but two of the licences inside this holding are held within at 50:50 joint venture with Power Metal Resources, and are likely to be the subject of drilling this year.
As it stands, we don’t know what the drilling will uncover.
But the precedents locally are very encouraging.
Kalahari Copper Belt discoveries have tended to be of a higher grade than the global average, and in this era of high energy prices that’s likely to be significant. 
Most of the mineralised zones discovered to date have occurred within 200 metres of surface, which again bodes well for the economics of mining.
True, exploration has thus far concentrated on where the sand cover is thinnest, and it may be that there are also opportunities deeper down.
But Kavango holds licenses over ground where the cover is thin, including licence PL082/2018, which lies just 35 kilometres north of T3.
We also hold ground close to the Namibian border, where early-stage work has just got underway. Not much exploration of significance has ever been done in this area, so it will be interesting to see what results that work, which includes mapping and the collection of up to 8,800 soil samples.
Sampling like this, in conjunction with geophysical data, will help us define drilling targets for later in the year.
Will we make a high-grade discovery on the KCB?
Certainly, the potential for an early discovery here is as good as it is anywhere across our portfolio. And with the copper price still holding up well, we can’t wait to get cracking.