Investigating the KSZ’s Olympic Dam potential

As readers will likely be aware, we recently released the results of a conceptual economic viability report for the iron oxide-copper-gold (“IOCG”) target we have at our Kalahari Suture Zone (“KSZ”) project.

We put a lot of thought into what this work could tell us before commissioning it. After all, most projects are drilled first and then get an economic study wrapped around them afterwards, assuming that attractive enough mineralisation is encountered.

But in the end, we came to the conclusion that the IOCG target at the KSZ merits a different, and perhaps more unconventional, approach.

The results of the study go a long way towards explaining why.

First off, the IOCG target at the KSZ is deep.

It’s true that the data sets exhibit striking similarities to the ones that were used in taking the original decision to drill the mother of all IOCGs, Olympic Dam, back in the 1970s.

But there’s also a crucial difference: the coincidence of the geophysical and the magnetic anomalies in the Great Red Spot portion of the KSZ lead us to suspect the presence of an IOCG deposit is a great deal deeper than the corresponding anomalies were at Olympic Dam.

IOCG mineralisation at Olympic Dam starts at depths of around 300 metres, whereas in our model of the KSZ, IOCG mineralisation would likely start at around 900 metres.

That’s a big difference for a small company like Kavango, especially when we’ve already got prospective nickel targets to focus on at comparatively shallower depths.

Our hope is that when we come to set our drill rigs turning once more, we can target both potential orebodies with the same set of holes.

But before we do that, we have to have a very clear idea that it really would be worth going down those extra three or four hundred metres.

Hence, we commissioned the study to examine the potential viability of an IOCG orebody at that location in Botswana, and at that depth.

Weighing up the risks and potential rewards

In creating the report, we selected various standard pricing assumptions such as US$1,600/oz gold, US$18/oz silver, US$3.50 copper/lb and US$28/lb uranium, and began to crunch the numbers from there. In choosing these prices we aimed for what we consider to be a conservative approach.

Three different scenarios that used various grades and assumed a 30-year life based on the discovery of 300mln tonnes of mineable ore delivered net present values (using a discount rate of 10%) of US$3bn, US$4.13bn and US$8.05bn for the project respectively. The lower number assumed a higher capex, and accordingly also delivered a lower internal rate of return, at 17%.

But the IRR for the project when modelled as an Olympic Dam lookalike ran up as high as 31% on that US$8.05bn NPV number.

And that is a big deal for a company the size of Kavango.

At this stage all these figures are conceptual only; there is no guarantee yet, for example, of what grade, if any, we might hit. However, the answer to the question as to whether the IOCG target is worth drilling looks like an emphatic yes for the time being.

But before we can say that with certainty, there is more work to be done.

We need to see if we can indeed drill both the nickel target and the IOCG as part of the same programme, we need to work out exactly how big we’d want the programme to be, and we need to work out how much it would cost.

Given the potential rewards on offer, the temptation might be to get back down there on the ground with the drills and get going as fast as possible. But geophysics-led exploration is a pain-staking business. We’d rather take our time and get it right.

For now, we know that the conceptual target is well worth it, and we are moving forward with renewed confidence.

Breaking new ground in the Kalahari Copper Belt

Things are shaping up well at our Kalahari Copper Belt, or “KCB”, project in Botswana as the results of an extensive soil sampling and mapping campaign begin to come in.


And now that we have agreed to increase Kavango’s stake in the asset to 100%, we’re excited to continue pushing forward with exposure to as much of the potential upside on offer as possible.

The purpose of our ongoing work at the KCB is to identify drill targets for us to get to work on across our 287,100-hectare land package later in the year.

But in the meantime, the geology of our licence area is also beginning to make itself known to us and provide real grounds for encouragement.

As of 14 June, 3,478 of 8,000 planned soil samples had been collected. And these have already played a key role in establishing the location of several contacts between the well-known Ngwako Pan and D’Kar geological formations on our staked land. We’ve obviously made a lot more progress since.

The contact areas between the shallower D’Kar lithologies and the deeper Ngwako Pan sediments are closely associated with several copper-silver deposits and discoveries located in the wider Kalahari Copper Belt.

Importantly, these structures are known to stretch for thousands of kilometres across northern Botswana and into Namibia.

This is part of the reason why we have such a huge KCB landholding. After all, companies like Khoemacau Copper Mining (which has made much of the running in the Botswana copper scene over the past couple of years) are already breaking significant ground by taking a similar approach in the region.

Map showing KCB extension from Botswana to Namibia with Kavango/Kanye licences highlighted

Companies in the region have been able to identify economic grades of mineralisation close to zones where shearing, folding, and tensional failure has taken place between rock layers. In particular, Khoemacau has identified significant copper and silver deposits at the contact of Ngwako Pan and D’Kar, but primarily on the D’Kar side. So, the confirmation of the presence of Ngwako-Pan-D’Kar formational contacts on our ground is an important step towards validating our hypothesis as to the prospectivity of the western half of the KCB.

Major project upside

Establishing the KCB’s prospectivity had previously been difficult to confirm, due to the extensive sand cover that characterises the region. But we’ve taken a step forward in this regard with the deployment of the Tromino seismic technology, which we are using to map overburden and subsoil layers.

The Tromino has helped in designing appropriate soil geochemistry sampling techniques across various areas with different overburden thicknesses, and helps with subsurface mapping.  That information can now be combined with electromagnetic data gathered from airborne surveys that we’ve previously undertaken.

Tromino Orientation Survey Line 1, showing interpreted near-surface sediments #

 

 A Tromino surveying unit

It all means we can go into our preliminary discussions with drilling contractors with a fair degree of confidence.

The idea is to send the drill bit down to investigate in detail structural features in the vicinity of and above Ngwako Pan-D'kar formation contacts, and to see what comes back. And following our recent deal with Power Metal Resources to consolidate ownership of the KCB into a simpler structure, 100% of the upside now lies with Kavango shareholders. What’s more, with an independent report recently valuing our KCB land package at $6.02 million, the value of this upside could be highly significant. Especially when compared to our current market capitalisation.

All-in-all, the drill campaign at the KCB looks set to be an exciting one to watch, and we look forward to updating you all as to progress later in the year. If we can build on the momentum we have already established at the project, then our 100% ownership could prove to be a game-changer.

Your questions about Kavango answered

I recently asked you to get in touch to let me know the biggest question you had about what we’re up to at Kavango right now.
 
As I said when I started this newsletter, as much as possible I want this to be a two-way street.
 
So, if you ever have any specific issues you’d like me to explore, don’t hesitate to hit reply to this email and get in touch.
 
I had a great response to my last email, and I’d like to thank everyone who wrote in.
 
Today, I wanted to run through a handful of the questions I received and offer some further insight into what we’re doing—and where we’re heading—here at Kavango.
 
Indeed, the first question comes from Graham.
 
He asks:
 
“How far ahead does our current funding take us?
 
This is never an easy question to answer, as a number of variables come into play.
 
Put simply: it depends what we end up doing, and that, in turn, depends on the results we get in from our various work programmes.
 
That being said, our current programmes are fully funded out into next year, and if market conditions move the right way, money from warrants could also give us a considerable boost.
 
If we do get additional money, the decision would then have to be taken as to whether we expand and accelerate existing activities, or budget out further into the future.
 
Another consideration is that, with the breadth and strength of our portfolio, there is always the possibility that a funding partner might want to come in on one of our assets.
 
If that was to occur, then obviously new budgets would have to be drawn up.
 
Meanwhile, Shaun asks:
 
“What is the share price going to be if you make a discovery?”

It’s not proper for a company or any of its directors to speculate on where its share price might go.
 
So, I won’t.
 
But what I can talk about is volume. Experienced investors know that volume in any stock is key. It is something I watch closely with Kavango. Although our share price is down considerably over recent months, this has not been reflected by a similar increase in volume. This tells me that when conditions improve and if we can deliver in the field, then we should be well positioned for a strong recovery.
 
If the KSZ delivers up the types of mineralisation that we are hoping for, it could be transformational.
 
The discovery of a Norilsk-style deposit, or potentially an iron-oxide-copper-gold (IOCG) project lower down, would represent an enormous value-add and would undoubtedly be recognised as such by the mining industry and the wider market.
 
The effects of a discovery at the KCB might not be quite so substantial, but they would still be very significant.
 
Meanwhile we also have the Ditau drill results we are waiting on, in particular that 28m “Zone of Interest” from Hole DITDD004.
 
We’ll keep working to hopefully realise some of opportunities.

A very specific, but interesting question here from Marcus.
 
He asks:
 
“When do you expect to get the drill bit turning at the KCB?”
 
This something I’m particularly excited about, especially now we have announced the deal with Power Metal to buy them out of the Kanye JV.
 
Plans are ongoing to initiate drilling on the Kalahari Copper Belt and, at the moment, it looks as though the drill bit will start turning towards the end of the third quarter.
 
Preparatory work is already well underway…
 
Soil sampling is nearing completion…
 
And we expect to put out a further update on our progress and our plans for drilling at the KCB shortly. The mapping we have done in the first half has been extremely successful, where we’ve confirmed the Ngwako Pan-D’kar formational contact. This could prove to be an extremely important lead for us, in our hunt for copper/silver deposits.
 
Keep an eye out for that.
 
Meanwhile, Susan asks:
 
“How do you think current market sentiment will affect Kavango?”
 
Well, there’s no doubt that market conditions are tough right now.
 
Metals prices have been under pressure against a strengthening dollar and expectations of a slowing in the global economy generally.
 
Against that, there has been some respite from the lifting of the more onerous covid restrictions in China.
 
But two factors above all have been affecting sentiment in my view: inflation, and the war in Ukraine.
 
Inflation will take a while to get under control, but the war in Ukraine might end rapidly, given the right political will.
 
Meanwhile, investors remain cautious about allocating their funds into more risky sectors.
 
But that’s what dynamic companies like Kavango must always live with. At the end of the day, sentiment doesn’t create value, but the drill bit does.
 
So, regardless of what the market is doing, we get on out there and continue to make things happen on the ground.
 
And there we have it for this ‘mailbag’ issue. I hope you found that useful and thanks again to everyone who sent in a question.
 
I’ll be sure to do more mailbag issues like this in the future, so feel free to keep sending your questions in and I’ll save them up to answer together in a future instalment.
 
In the meantime, I’ll be back in touch soon with another edition of Boots on the Ground.

Our progress at Ditau

The ironic thing about rare earths is they’re not actually that rare.

Not, at least, in terms of their abundance in the earth’s crust in general.

However, the key dynamic in the rare earths market right now isn’t how much there is overall, but instead where these 15 elements are based.

And the salient fact is, China currently dominates the rare earths market in a way that’s virtually unique.

Rough estimates suggest that the nation controls between 55% and 70% of the world’s rare earth supply in terms of production, and that it has an even tighter grip on processing capability.

So, if you’re in the market for rare earths right now, then China has got to be a huge factor.

However, this of course presents a significant problem to Western governments, many of whom are now establishing and/or solidifying domestic commodity supply chains as a major priority.

Indeed, China-Western relations have undeniably been turbulent in recent years, and in the wars of words and tariffs that have flown between various trading blocs, rare earths often get a mention.

The obvious question, then, is whether China would ever restrict the supply of rare earths into the West?

It hasn’t done so yet.

But it certainly has threatened to do so. And that’s been enough not only to give prices a significant floor, but also to sound alarm bells in the various European and American government departments tasked with keeping the international economy going.

Why?

Because rare earths are absolutely crucial in high tech manufacturing.

Neodymium is used in the magnets that are found in loudspeakers, and in computer hard drives; praseodymium is used in aircraft engines and in the manufacture of specialised glass; yttrium, terbium and Europium are used in the manufacture of electronic screens, and Europium is also used in the nuclear industry; lanthanum and cerium are used in the refining of crude oil; and neodymium, dysprosium, and occasionally terbium are used in the magnets that go into electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines.

 

Making progress at Ditau

Rare earths, in short, form a commodity group that is essential to any forward-looking modern economy.

And to many policy-makers, diversifying the source of these metals beyond China is becoming essential to mitigating supply chain risk.

That’s why rare earth projects around the world are increasingly gaining the interest and support of local governments.

Security of supply has re-emerged as a major factor in strategic economic analysis for the first time in several decades, and companies that hold rare earths projects are increasingly likely to find favour with regulators and governments alike.

What’s more, investors are waking up to their potential too.

Still, rare earths remain difficult commodities to focus on, precisely because China’s control over the price remains so strong.

And that’s why companies like us at Kavango hold rare earth projects in conjunction with other major assets.

Indeed, when pricing is weak, rare earths projects can take a back seat. But when, as is increasingly likely, supply gets constrained, companies with projects already on the go can accelerate them for rapid development.

In this regard, the Ditau project we operate and own along Power Metal Resources in Botswana is a perfect example.

Ditau was first identified as prospective in the 1970s, and is now the subject of renewed attention under our joint venture.

Our previous exploration identified 12 geophysical structures at Ditau, of which nine have clear indications of being “ring structures” with the potential to host carbonatite and other intrusive rocks.

Carbonatites, in turn, are the principal source of rare earth elements globally.

We are right now completing a drill programme over three of the most exciting of these targets:

  • “i10”, a discrete circular anomaly of 2.2km diameter
  • “i8”, a slightly larger ring like target of about 4km diameter
  • “i1”, which may represent a possible large 7km x 18.5km magmatic intrusive complex, within which are circular structures indicative of potential carbonatite intrusive

We will continue to release results as we get them But the bottom line is, there’s a lot to play for here in Ditau.

 

What’s on the cards for Kavango as we head into H2 2022?

It’s been a busy start to 2022 for Kavango, and we don’t plan on letting up the pace of activity at all as we move into the second half of the year.

In fact, we are carrying out work across several fronts in Botswana right now–including programmes at our Kalahari Suture Zone (“KSZ”), Kalahari Copper Belt (“KCB”), and Ditau projects.

So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the last six months and examine what is likely to be on the horizon between now and Christmas.

Our first major development this year came in February, when we delivered drilling results from the KSZ.

This work, which began at the tail end of 2021, was designed to hone in on Norilsk-like massive sulphide targets at depths of around 500m–an ambitious undertaking for a company of our size.

The data we retrieved was able to take our understanding of the KSZ to an unprecedented level. So, to reflect this, we are right now working on a Version 2.0 of our underground model for the project, including our latest insights into how we now think the geology works there.

Moreover, this round of drilling at the KSZ was also responsible for another exciting development.

Indeed, the lessons we learned from the data we retrieved re-opened a historically-raised theory that the KSZ might also host large-scale iron-oxide-copper-gold mineralisation similar to that at the world-renowned Olympic Dam project in Australia.

With our model suggesting that this mineralisation could lie underneath our primary zone of interest at around 1,000m, it’s another ambitious target for a junior explorer like ourselves. However, we are confident that we have the equipment and expert team necessary to push forward and investigate further.

On this note, one advantage across our entire portfolio that has become particularly evident this year is our access to state-of-the-art technology known as audio-magnetotelluric (“AMT”) surveying. For better or worse, the mining companies that preceded us two or three decades ago never had this their disposal.

So, why is it so useful?

Well, since first being pioneered in the field by nickel giant INCO back in 1991, AMT has emerged as an electromagnetic surveying technique that is invaluable when defining drill targets. And as such, we expect to continue using the technology to define areas of interest both at the KSZ and also across other areas of our portfolio.

What should you be looking out for?

This brings us neatly to Kavango’s second major undertaking so far this year: drilling at Ditau.

At the time of writing, much of the core we have drilled is still awaiting assay results. However, the early signs are already promising.

The ideal result would be rare-earth enriched core that could be used to open up a wider area of mineralisation, but we will have to see whether that plays out or not.

So, as the rest of 2022 rolls on, Ditau drill core is one thing to look out for.

But what else is on the cards?

At the KSZ, the plan is to go into our “target acquisition phase.”  This will involve combining data acquired from several different sources, including the upcoming results from a TDEM survey on an area of the KSZ known as the B1 Conductor.

The results of the ongoing AMT work will also be factored in, and once new targets have been decided upon, a full operational field plan will be put into place.

Separately, we are also looking to focus more than it has done hitherto on the southern portion of the KSZ to see if we can open up additional upside.

Meanwhile, over at the Kalahari Copper Belt project, a reverse circulation drill programme is set to get underway following a significant soil sampling effort.

Finally, while all that’s going on, an ongoing assessment of the recent drilling at Ditau will be taking place, and the likelihood is that the immediate follow-up will involve AMT, gravity surveys, and possibly some TDEM work too.

All-in-all, after an exciting start the year, the next six months stand to be very important for Kavango. As we continue to push forward, we look forward greatly to keeping our investors as updated as we can.

Meet the team: Brett Grist, Kavango’s chief operating officer

As Kavango’s work on the ground in Botswana continues to gather pace, we caught up with our chief operating officer, Brett Grist, to learn more about the experiences that shaped his career and led him to the position he fills today….

“I got into geology and mining from growing up in south-west England,” says Brett, a geologist with an impressive track record of working for exploration companies in Africa, the Middle East, Australia and the UK prior to joining us at Kavango.

For Brett, it all began back in one of England’s most prolific mining areas when he was a child.

“In north Dartmoor, there are a number of old workings around,” he says. “I used to spend my weekends running around those old mines.”

The interest became serious enough to take him to the Royal School of Mines in London, where he began to get an appreciation, he says, of what really makes a mining project work.

After university his next step was to go to Australia, where he worked on gold projects in some of the most famous districts based in the west of the country.

My first job as a fresh-faced Pom in Australia was working on a rig in Coolgardie,” he says.

It was an old project, which allowed him to take what he calls “an archaeological interest” in the various stages that mines go through. What’s more, the company he worked for also had two operating mines, which allowed him to learn his way around a producing operation.

Once his Australian visa ran out, Brett returned to Europe, joined the well-known mining consultancy ACA Howe, and spent some time working on gold projects in Portugal.

But Africa was beckoning.

 

A passion for exploration in Africa

I’d always wanted to go to Africa,” says Brett, and his chance finally came when an opportunity arose at Reunion Mining, a company that was eventually swallowed up by Anglo American.

First off, he worked for Reunion on gold exploration in Mali. Then, he jumped over to Ghana, to work up the Chirano project.

“Chirano was still in its early stages back then,” he reminisces, pointing to the fact that it subsequently got sold to Redback of Australia, and then on again to Kinross, where it was something of a centerpiece.

But as Chirano was changing hands, Brett decided to rejoin some of his peers from Reunion, who went on to form ZincOx.

ZincOx was a prominent constituent of London’s Alternative Investment Market for many years, most of which Brett spent working on its assets in Yemen. It was on the ground in Yemen that he really picked up the feel for community relations that he’s now beginning to bring to bear on behalf of us at Kavango in Botswana.

For as long as Yemen was stable it worked well for ZincOx. Brett was able to guide the project there through to the feasibility stage, negotiating with the government along the way, and engaging with ambassadors and the International Finance Corporation. And all the while he kept the community on side too, through open dialogue and measures such as ensuring effective training and employment were provided.

Eventually though, following the Arab Spring, the security situation became unstable, and it was time to leave.

Brett went back to Africa, where as CEO he got to lead work on Casa Mining’s Misisi gold project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I joined that project at early-stage exploration and grew it into a 1.2-million-ounce resource,” he says. “Again, it was a very challenging environment. But the key to working successfully in situations like that is: don’t promise what you can’t deliver.”

After four years of working in the DRC, it was time to spend a bit of time at home, so Brett joined the Strategic Minerals subsidiary Cornwall Resources in its quest for tin, tungsten and copper in the south-west of England.

“We showed people you can advance an exploration discovery in the modern day in England,” he says. That’s a fine achievement in itself, and although it seems clear now, it wasn’t at all obvious just a few short years ago.

“Deep down, though,” continues Brett, “I wanted to go back to Africa.”

Brett was already acquainted with Kavango through connections related to Reunion and ZincOx. So, when the opportunity arose to join the company, he jumped at the chance.

Several things mitigated in our favour, he says.

First, Botswana is about as good a mining destination in Africa as it’s possible to get.

Second, the exploration opportunities on offer are highly prospective.

Third, the Kavango team combined youth and experience, energy and wisdom. The team on the ground, he says, is particularly strong.

He joined in February 2022, and we’re happy to say that it’s been all go ever since.

How we’re uncovering Ditau’s true potential

Botswana is well known for its wildlife, with lions, leopards, elephants, and all manner of other beautiful animals calling its sprawling savannahs home.

The big game we’re interested in at our Ditau project, however, lies under the earth rather than on top of it.

Indeed, because of the extensive Kalahari sands covering the area of Botswana in which the project is based, very little is known about what lies beneath the surface.

So, after gathering encouraging results from our initial surveying and mapping last year, we decided that we needed to drill to learn more.

Accordingly, in conjunction with our joint venture partner Power Metal Resources, we signed off on the targets we planned to drill at Ditau in March of this year. By the following month, we had already set the rigs turning, and the work continues to this day.

Our ultimate plan is to drill a total of six holes across three targets. The latest hole–into what we’ve dubbed the i10 target–has now completed.

At this stage, we’re still awaiting assays. However, as announced, it does initially appear that our drilling intercepted our targeted magnetic anomaly at the expected depth. In other words–so far so good.

This anomaly has a diameter of 2.2 kilometres, and we think there’s a possibility that it could be a carbonatite, in the fashion of other bodies discovered in the area in the seventies by Falconbridge.

However, the cores we extracted from the second hole have also given us an intriguing precious metals lead. The 29m “Zone of Interest” is like nothing any member of our team has seen before.

Whatever the assays return, there appears to be a lot going on in these rocks.

 

How did we get here?

What led us into this exploration campaign was the identification on our ground of several ‘ring structures’ of the kind we’ve just drilled at i10.

These in turn lie on a known trend of kimberlites and carbonatites that run across the northwest of Botswana and down into Namibia.

The ‘ring structures’ themselves were identified using geophysics, and often appear to be quite crater-like. Their size varies–they can be anything from a hundred metres to a couple of kilometres across–and handily, they are not usually that deep.

Of course, depth is a relative term when it comes to a junior mining company. But when set against some of our other operations, particularly the KSZ, drilling to 389 meters at the i10 target doesn’t seem overly ambitious.

Each of the three targets we’re drilling at Ditau has a different geophysical signature, and so it’ll be quite a steep learning curve when the assay results come back.

Already, though, there are some big positives.

Preliminary magnetic susceptibility readings taken on the core from the recently completed hole at i10 were highly elevated on material drawn from a depth between 293 and 321 metres. These readings coincide with a visibly altered section of the rock, so we are awaiting the assay lab results with considerable interest.

What’s more, sections of the core also contain siliceous and haematitic zones, which may be conducive to mineralization.

Ultimately, of course, what we’re looking for is elevated levels of any minerals, whether rare earths or precious metals, above what are known as ‘crustal norms’. If we get it, we’ll then be able to zone in on the richest areas.

The assay labs are busy at the moment, so it’s not clear how long we’ll have to wait before we know one way or the other for the holes we’ve already drilled.

In the meantime, our drilling continues.

How we’re overcoming Botswana’s biggest challenge

How come no one saw this before?
 
That’s the first question you’d be forgiven for asking when you initially come across the extensive work we’re doing here in Botswana.
 
Here at Kavango, we’re in the process of uncovering what could be massively untapped sources of base and precious metal deposits.
 
The investigations we’ve already completed in the country suggest there could potentially be huge finds across our different project areas.
 
And, with each new update coming out of those projects, it seems the scope of the opportunity is only getting bigger.
 
Add to that the fact that Botswana itself is an attractive region for investment globally given its well-developed infrastructure and strong legal system, and you do wonder...
 
Really, how come no one saw this before?
 
On that note, how did we, a relatively young company, manage to beat so many others to the opportunity?
 
Though there are naturally several factors contributing to our success so far, perhaps one of the most fundamental is technology.
 
Before now, others who’ve tried to explore areas around where we’re focusing have simply not had the equipment to do so.
 
You see, Botswana’s biggest challenge to explorers has always been the same:
 
The great Kalahari Desert.
 
It’s why, in our opinion, figuring out a way to explore beneath the African nation’s thick sand cover has always been the key to unlocking its true wealth.

A little patience goes a long way: overcoming the challenge of the Kalahari
 
The huge Kalahari Desert covers nearly 70% of Botswana and, though the ground beneath may potentially be rich with base and precious metals, the sand cover imposing the area has made proving so much more difficult.
 
Indeed, the well-known and daunting ‘Kalahari sand cover’ has foiled many who’ve tried to explore the region in the past.
 
For example, back in the 1970s and 1980s, an exploration team funded by the Canadian government looked to investigate the same Kalahari Suture Zone (known as ‘the KSZ’) that we’re now exploring.
 
At the time, limits in technology meant that the Canadian team were soon forced to give up and move on, leaving the KSZ still largely unexplored, hidden beneath the Kalahari sand cover.
 
However, one of our founders Hillary Gumbo felt the area still had potential. They understood that, if they had the right technology, then proving so would be a whole lot easier.
 
It’s one of the reasons that, as well as aligning ourselves so closely with Botswana itself, we’re also putting technology at the heart of everything we do.
 
In fact, by embracing modern mining exploration technology and experimenting with the latest breakthroughs, we hope to put ourselves at the forefront of metal discoveries in the country.

 

Three key technologies we’ve embraced to help unlock Botswana’s hidden wealth

I believe very strongly that our adoption of modern technology is one of the smartest edges we have over the competition.
 
It’s been game-changing, frankly. And it’s exciting to see the new ideas our partners develop and figure out ways in which we can use their tech to evidence further the potential present in areas that might have otherwise been overlooked.
 
The three specific tech breakthroughs I think have been most transformative for our fortunes in the Kalahari are TDEM surveys, AMT surveys, and improvements in the modelling software we’re now able to draw on:
 

  • TDEM stands for Time-Domain Electromagnetic. It refers to a method of identifying what’s below the surface by essentially firing an electrical current into the ground and monitoring the electrical feedback that’s generated. You can quickly build up a good picture of which metals might be present based on the feedback recorded by the receivers on the surface.
  • AMT stands for Audio-Frequency Magnetotellurics. Rather than using electric currents, AMT surveys map naturally-occurring energy sources in the ground, such as magnetic fields and the earth’s own electric field. These surveys are crucial in covered regions like Botswana because of the depth the survey can reach, mapping territory as far down as 2km below the surface.
  • And of course, modelling software of varying capabilities has been available for decades, but in working with our various technology partners, we’re always keen to deploy the very latest methods. One key breakthrough in recent years has been the use of what’s known as ‘inversion software’, which uses seismic readings, together with other data, to physically map out the structure of the earth below ground.

 
As you can imagine, by combining these different technologies, it’s much easier to build up a picture of what’s in the ground beneath the Kalahari sand cover.
 
Where such detail and accuracy would have been impossible in the past, today companies like ours—who embrace the tech and use it drive their ambitions—are able to gather a much clearer picture of what’s going on during exploration.
 
Not only does it create more transparency around what’s going on beneath the surface, but it also helps us to be more transparent with investors too, which is something we pride ourselves on.


 
Always on the lookout for new ways to reduce risk and increase opportunity
 
Of course, when it comes to exploring, a company’s success relies largely on making a discovery.
 
But, as we all know, exploration is necessarily a speculative venture, and not all projects can come good.
 
The key, then, is to minimize the risk of embarking on projects that don’t lead to discovery.
 
This is why it’s so fundamental to embrace modern advancements in technology such as TDEM surveys and AMT surveys alongside the various developments being made in below surface modelling.
 
You see, by building more accurate imaging of what’s going on in the ground before needing to incur the massive costs that come with drilling, we’re able to expand our scope, cover more projects and bring greater opportunity to potential investors.
 
It’s a huge positive.
 
And it’s why we’re excited to continue to explore the next advancements in exploration technology too.
 
As the industry develops, so do we, and we continue to seek out ways we can take advantage of new technologies to help us unlock even more of the potential that the great country of Botswana offers.
 
And I’ll be sure to keep you informed of all the latest developments.

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.

Exploration-only focus keeps the Kavango team on target

At Kavango, we believe the scope and scale of our exploration portfolio is a testament not only to our ambition, but also to our focus.

Indeed, we have a very large position over the Kalahari Suture Zone in the southwest of Botswana, where we’re exploring for copper, nickel, and platinum group metals.

But alongside this, our exposure to the African nation also extends to the exciting Ditau Camp project, where we’re looking for rare earths and base metals, and a number of licences in the Kalahari Copper Belt, where the target is–naturally–copper.

So, what can we glean from the nature of this expansive land package?

Two things, we believe.

First, our geographical focus is clearly on Botswana.

And secondly, our focus is geared heavily towards exploration.

You see, Kavango is a company that knows how to play to its strengths, and the strengths in question here are the combined exploration expertise of our founders and the crack team of geologists we are employing to advance several of our projects simultaneously.

Since our inception, our vision has always been for discovery rather than production.

And the reasons are simple.

Exploration is in the blood of our operatives, as we’ve established. 

So, there’s that. But there’s also a far more economically-minded and pragmatic reason too.

In percentage terms, the real upside in mining lies in the discovery phase.

The famous Lassonde Curve, which models the life cycles and valuations of projects from early-stage exploration right through to production shows two big value uplifts – the first on discovery, the second at the point of production.

And ultimately, a great amount of value can be made at the first of these stages.

Of course, the discoveries have to be meaningful. But Kavango has never been about small fry.

 

The Lifecycle of a Mineral Discovery

Credit: Visual Capitalist

 

We are not a company that focuses entirely on finding a few hundred thousand ounces of gold here and there.

Not at all.

Our goal is serious and focussed exploration.

For example, if the hypotheses that underly our exploration effort at the KSZ can be proven, then Kavango may end up discovering one of the biggest nickel and/or PGM projects in decades.

Likewise, with the copper potential in the north and with the rare earths at Ditau– we are targeting big discoveries, and giving ourselves a chance to capture the value uplift on offer on that first upward stage of the Lassonde Curve.

Nothing is off the table, of course. But the idea of an exploration junior starting to focus on that second part of the Lassonde Curve by developing tier-one producing projects that stand up on the global stage is an extremely ambitious one.

At the present moment, in any case, Kavango is focussed on the more immediate term.

If we can add plenty of value at the early stage, then we can then decide whether to let bigger players shoulder the development and execution risk. And while that’s going on, we can continue to focus on the other assets in our exploration portfolio.

Will we exit our major projects completely, once a development scenario becomes realistic? That’s an open question, and one that can only be answered when the time comes.

However, there’s no doubt that when development does happen, it’s very unlikely to be Kavango that takes the lead.

Why would we? There are plenty of other companies that excel at that sort of work.

But in our case, all the experience we have built up identifying and investigating targets in Botswana make us one of the best-placed exploration companies in the country to make further discoveries.

It’s a no brainer to keep going with the exploration.

And in this context, our ongoing activities assume something of the aspect of a virtuous circle, as more and more knowledge is accumulated inside the company, and increasing amounts of data are generated.

Exploration isn’t easy, of course, and not every hole will be a winner.

But you only have to look at the companies that have dreamed big and then subsequently delivered to understand how much of a value uplift is on the table.

Two companies that have succeeded in this in recent years are Greatland Gold and SolGold. Although both still have exposure to the flagship assets that they discovered, they are no longer the operator or even the major shareholder.

Rather, they are letting other companies do the heavy lifting for them and this allows them plenty of room for manoeuvre to continue with exploration on other projects.

Another example from earlier times is Kiwara, a pure-play copper explorer in Zambia which hit a couple of very good intercepts and was then bought outright by First Quantum in a deal which delivered shareholders millions of dollars and a spectacular percentage return.

Which way will Kavango go?

Well, one thing at a time. First things first, the big drill hits are required.

But if they come in, then our options really start to open up, and our exploration portfolio will really start to hum.  

Rare Earths – Why the market for these long-overlooked elements is suddenly heating up

The ironic thing about rare earths is they’re not actually that rare.

Not, at least, in terms of their abundance in the earth’s crust in general.

However, the key dynamic in the rare earths market right now isn’t how much there is overall, but instead where these 15 elements are based.

And the salient fact is, China currently dominate the rare earths market in a way that’s virtually unique.

Rough estimates suggest that the nation controls between 55% and 70% of the world’s rare earth supply in terms of production, and that is has an even tighter grip on processing capability.

So, if you’re in the market for rare earths right now, then China has got to be a huge factor.

However, this of course presents a significant problem to Western governments, for many of whom establishing and/or solidifying domestic commodity supply chains is currently a major priority.

Indeed, China-Western relations have undeniably been turbulent in recent years, and in the wars of words and tariffs that have flown between various trading blocs, rare earths often get a mention.

The obvious question, then, is whether China would ever restrict the supply of rare earths into the West?

It hasn’t done so yet.

But it certainly has threatened to do so. And that’s been enough not only to give prices a significant floor, but also to sound alarm bells in the various European and American government departments tasked with keeping the international economy going.

Why?

Because rare earths are absolutely crucial in high tech manufacturing.

Neodymium is used in the magnets that are found in loudspeakers, and in computer hard drives; praseodymium is used in aircraft engines and in the manufacture of specialised glass; yttrium, terbium and Europium are used in the manufacture of electronic screens, and Europium is also used in the nuclear industry; lanthanum and cerium are used in the refining of crude oil; and neodymium, dysprosium, and occasionally terbium are used in the magnets that go into electric vehicle batteries and wind turbines.

Rare earths, in short, form a commodity group that is essential to any forward-looking modern economy.

And to many policy-makers, diversifying the source of these metals beyond China is becoming essential to mitigating supply chain risk.

That’s why rare earth projects around the world are increasingly gaining the interest and support of local governments.

Security of supply has re-emerged as a major factor in strategic economic analysis for the first time in several decades, and companies that hold rare earths projects are increasingly likely to find favour with regulators and governments alike.

What’s more, investors are waking up to their potential too.

Still, rare earths remain difficult commodities to focus on, precisely because China’s control over the price remains so strong.

And that’s why companies like Kavango hold rare earth projects in conjunction with other major assets.

Indeed, when pricing is weak, rare earths projects can take a back seat. But when, as is increasingly likely, supply gets constrained, companies with projects already on the go can accelerate them for rapid development.

In this regard, the Ditau project we operate and own along Power Metal Resources in Botswana is a perfect example.

Ditau was first identified as prospective in the 1970s, and is now the subject of renewed attention under our joint venture.

Our previous exploration has identified seven drill targets, each of which includes a possible carbonatite intrusive body lying within range of reverse circulation drilling.

All the targets are at a depth of 300 metres or less, and one, ‘Target I1’ is a large, intense magnetic dipole which spans 17 kilometres by eight kilometres and lies at a shallow depth just under the Kalahari sands.

As we’ve highlighted in recent announcements, there’s also the potential that Ditau is prospective for other base metals too–not to mention the fact that it’s long been known that niobium occurs on the ground.

So, there’s a lot to play for here, and in Botswana, a country well-known as a safe mining jurisdiction, Ditau is very much a key part of our portfolio as we gear up for drilling.

 

Why Botswana is the perfect destination for mineral exploration

Botswana consistently hits the number one spot for Africa when the Fraser Institute does its annual ranking of the best places to go mining.

Typically, the top spots go to jurisdictions like Nevada, Saskatchewan and Western Australia.

But even in global terms, Botswana is no laggard.

In the most recent Fraser Investment Attractiveness Index, it placed 11th, ahead of the Republic of Ireland, Queensland, British Columbia, and even the mighty mining province of Ontario.

So, to say that Botswana ranks highly as a mining investment destination is by no means a stretch. It’s Africa’s best mining destination bar none, and comfortably and consistently ranks within the top twenty in the world.

Why is this?

Put simply: politics and geology.

Botswana is famous in the mining industry for its lack of corruption, and perhaps more broadly as an island of relative stability in a continent that can at times be turbulent.

Going down Fraser’s Investment Attractiveness Index, Mali is the next African country that you come to, and Mali presents significantly elevated levels of geopolitical tension.

In old money, you might have expected South Africa to score highly, but in this day and age it’s actually in the 20 least attractive places to go mining, according to the Fraser survey.

But it’s not just a matter of politics, of course.

There’s also the question of the geological endowment.

Here Botswana is blessed in two ways. One, it’s already well-established as the leading African diamond producing country, and–after some manoeuvring over the past couple of decades–has come to an equable understanding with the world’s major diamond miner DeBeers.

DeBeers and the government of Botswana now operate a well-oiled joint venture operation known as Debswana, and this continues to be one of the biggest diamond mining forces in the world.

The history of diamond mining in Botswana goes back some decades, and the country has grown used to playing host to some of the world’s largest mines in this space.

This, in turn, has meant that as the country has opened up to exploration for other commodities, there was already a considerable body of in-country experience both technically and bureaucratically to draw upon.

Botswana is quite happy to diversify into commodities other than diamonds if the mineral endowment is there, and it has the technical and bureaucratic infrastructure already in place to allow that diversification to take place.

In fact, it’s well underway.

 

Kavango’s project areas in Botswana

A major investment by privately-held Khoemacau Copper Mining has just led to the opening of a new world-class copper mine that looks set to produce 60,000 tonnes of copper and around two million ounces of silver per year.

This is big time, but may only be the first of many such projects to come.

The T3 copper project, which is now in the hands of Sandfire, looks set to come on stream too.

And there are others coming along down the line as the pace of work on what’s known as the Kalahari Copper Belt accelerates.

The Kalahari Copper Belt runs roughly 1,000 kilometres from northern Botswana into Namibia, and has been the scene of intense exploration activity in recent years.

The geology is in many ways similar to the more famous Copper Belt that lies to its north, the one that straddles the Zambia-DRC border.

But in the case of the Kalahari Copper Belt, significant levels of cover have historically impeded exploration, and it’s only been in recent years with the advent of more advanced underground surveying techniques that companies have at last been able to build the confidence to put significant amounts of money into exploring the region.

Even allowing for that new technology, though, the first port of call for exploration companies has still been where cover is at its shallowest. Kavango Resources, though, also holds ground where cover is deeper and although this might be more expensive to mine, it could also be hiding great riches.

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How modern exploration technology is helping us to unlock the full potential of Botswana’s hidden wealth

Though the country has many positives, Botswana’s biggest challenge has thwarted many. Until now.

How come no one saw this before?

That’s the first question you’d be forgiven for asking when you initially come across the extensive work we’re doing here in Botswana.

At Kavango Resources (LON:KAV), we’re in the process of uncovering what could be massively untapped sources of base and precious metal deposits.

The investigations we’ve already completed in the country suggest there could potentially be huge finds across our different project areas.

And, with each new update coming out of those projects, it seems the scope of the opportunity is only getting bigger.

Add to that the fact that Botswana itself is ranked by the Fraser Institute as one of the most attractive regions for investment globally—especially given its well-developed infrastructure and lack of corruption—and you do wonder...

Really, how come no one saw this before?

On that note, how did we, a relatively young company, manage to beat so many others to the opportunity?

Though there are naturally several factors contributing to our success so far, perhaps one of the most fundamental is technology.

Before now, others who’ve tried to explore areas around where we’re focusing have simply not had the equipment to do so.

You see, Botswana’s biggest challenge to explorers has always been the same:

The great Kalahari Desert.

It’s why, in our opinion, figuring out a way to explore beneath the African nation’s thick sand cover has always been the key to unlocking its true wealth.

 

A little patience goes a long way: overcoming the challenge of the Kalahari

The huge Kalahari Desert covers nearly 70% of Botswana and, though the ground beneath may potentially be rich with base and precious metals, the sand cover imposing the area has made proving so much more difficult.

Indeed, the well-known and daunting ‘Kalahari sand cover’ has foiled many who’ve tried to explore the region in the past.

For example, back in the 1970s and 1980s, an exploration team funded by the Canadian government looked to investigate the same Kalahari Suture Zone (known as ‘the KSZ’) that we’re now exploring.

At the time, limits in technology meant that the Canadian team were soon forced to give up and move on, leaving the KSZ still largely unexplored, hidden beneath the Kalahari sand cover.

However, one of our founders Hillary Gumbo felt the area still had potential. They understood that, if they had the right technology, then proving so would be a whole lot easier.

It’s one of the reasons that, as well as aligning ourselves so closely with Botswana itself, we’re also putting technology at the heart of everything we do.

In fact, by embracing modern mining exploration technology and experimenting with the latest breakthroughs, we hope to put ourselves at the forefront of metal discoveries in the country.

 

Three key technologies we’ve embraced to help unlock Botswana’s hidden wealth

Speaking with our CEO Ben Turney recently, it’s clear he personally believes very strongly that our adoption of modern technology is one of the smartest edges we have over the competition.

“It’s been game-changing,” says Ben. “It’s exciting to see the new ideas our partners develop and figure out ways in which we can use their tech to evidence further the potential present in areas that might have otherwise been overlooked.”

The three specific tech breakthroughs Ben cites as being most transformative for our fortunes in the Kalahari are TDEM surveys, AMT surveys, and improvements in the modeling software we’re now able to draw on:

  • TDEM stands for Time-Domain Electromagnetic. It refers to a method of identifying what’s below the surface by essentially firing an electrical current into the ground and monitoring the electrical feedback that’s generated. You can quickly build up a good picture of which metals might be present based on the feedback recorded by the receivers on the surface.

 

Time Domain Electromagnetic (TDEM) Surveys
The technology to find Ni/Cu Drill Targets in the KSZ

Formation of magmatic sulphides

 

  • AMT stands for Audio-Frequency Magnetotellurics. Rather than using electric currents, AMT surveys map naturally-occurring energy sources in the ground, such as magnetic fields and the earth’s own electric field. These surveys are crucial in covered regions like Botswana because of the depth the survey can reach, mapping territory as far down as 500 metres or more below the surface.
  • And of course, modeling software of varying capabilities has been available for decades, but in working with our various technology partners, we’re always keen to deploy the very latest methods. One key breakthrough in recent years has been the use of what’s known as ‘inversion software’, which uses seismic readings, together with other data, to physically map out the structure of the earth below ground.

 

As you can imagine, by combining these different technologies, it’s much easier to build up a picture of what’s in the ground beneath the Kalahari sand cover.

Where such detail and accuracy would have been impossible in the past, today companies like ours—who embrace the tech and use it drive their ambitions—are able to gather a much clearer picture of what’s going on during exploration.

Not only does it create more transparency around what’s going on beneath the surface, but it also helps us to be more transparent with investors too, which is something we pride ourselves on.

 

Always on the lookout for new ways to reduce risk and increase opportunity

Of course, when it comes to exploring, a company’s success relies largely on making a discovery.

But, as we all know, exploration is necessarily a speculative venture, and not all projects can come good.

The key, then, is to minimize the risk of embarking on projects that don’t lead to discovery.

This is why it’s so fundamental to embrace modern advancements in technology such as TDEM surveys and AMT surveys alongside the various developments being made in below surface modeling.

You see, by building more accurate imaging of what’s going on in the ground before needing to incur the massive costs that come with drilling, we’re able to expand our scope, cover more projects and bring greater opportunity to potential investors.

It’s a huge positive.

And it’s why we’re excited to continue to explore the next advancements in exploration technology too.

As the industry develops, so do we, and we continue to seek out ways we can take advantage of new technologies to help us unlock even more of the potential that the great country of Botswana offers.

And we’ll be sure to keep you informed of all the latest developments.

 

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