I think one of our key strengths has always been the high quality of the exploration projects we have in our portfolio.
It’s not over-egging the pudding to say that we have four potentially company-making projects spread across our extensive Botswana portfolio.
On the KSZ alone, there’s the potential for a Norilsk lookalike target at depths of five or six hundred metres, while deeper down in the Great Red Spot the target bears up to significant comparison with Olympic Dam.
It’s rare to find a company with two such high quality targets in the same portfolio, let alone on the same licence.
And of course, where we’re concerned here at Kavango…
It doesn’t stop there!
There’s also the huge upside available from our Kalahari Copper Belt projects, and the intriguing potential at Ditau, which may yet turn us - and Botswana - into a major player in rare earths and a meaningful producer of gold too.
With such a broad range of properties and potential, you might wonder how we keep all the balls in the air at the same time.
It’s hard work, but we’ve been able to move forward with all our projects in recent months, and more to the point, we’ve got plenty more activity lined-up for the rest of the year and into 2023.
Indeed, in this instalment of Boots on the Ground, I want to recap and review where we are on some of these key projects.
Let’s start with the KCB
Of most immediate significance will be our plans on the Kalahari Copper Belt project.
Here, as you know, we recently identified a highly prospective drill target at Mamuno, with attractive grades showing up in soil sampling. The Mamuno licences are housed in our Kanye Resources vehicle, together with PL036, PL037 and a number of other licences. This land package is attracting a great deal of interest and I hope to be able to announce some news on this later on this year.
Meanwhile across the wider KCB, we’ve just taken our interest in the LVR joint venture to 90%, following the acquisition of a 65% stake that completed on 16 September.
That cues us up nicely for a maiden drilling campaign on the KCB, given that the LVR joint venture incorporates two prospecting licences covering a total area of 809 square kilometres.
In an area that’s known to be highly prospective for copper, that’s a sizeable chunk of ground to have, and although a firm date for drilling has yet to be set, one of the licences, PL082, isn’t far off being ready.
As it stands, PL082 has already yielded significant copper-in-soil anomalies, with XRF showing a peak value of 118 parts per million copper.
A more detailed understanding of grade at PL082 will have to await the investigations of the drill bit, but we do already know something of the extent of this prospect.
And it’s not small.
What we’ve called “the Central Zone” has a strike length of 27 kilometres, while the strike length at “the North Zone” rings in at eight kilometres. These are big strike lengths by anybody’s reckoning and give a clear indication of the kind of project scale we might be looking at down the line.
Separately, it’s possible that the PL083 licence, which is also encompassed in the LVR joint venture, has significant, previously unrecognised, prospective potential.
However, we don’t really know enough yet to say one way or the other, and our geophysics team is busy working up models to enable us to approach this ground in a meaningful way.
If we get it right, the payoffs might be huge. PL083 is largely unexplored ground, so anything that is there won’t have been missed by other companies, it just won’t have been looked for in the first place.
As ever with our work in Botswana, geophysics will be key. The huge advances that have been made in this area of geological science over the past few decades have enabled companies like ours to work up ground that would have been deemed unworkable in, say, the 1970s.
The Kalahari sands are deep – in places hundreds of metres deep – but these days, with the help of new tools, we can see deeper.
Which leads me to the KSZ
Certainly, that’s been true of the KSZ over the years, where our understanding of the geological structures there has been based around significantly more sophisticated exploration equipment and techniques than were available to our junior mining forebears of a generation or so ago.
In the case of KSZ, and particularly with reference to the Olympic Dam-style target that seems to lie at depth there, we’ve been able to apply a whole new technique – Controlled Source AudioMagnetoTellurics (CSAMT) – which wasn’t available to the original discoverers of Olympic Dam back in the 1970s.
The application of CSAMT has reaffirmed the insights gleaned from modelling done using older, tried and true techniques at the deeper depths of the KSZ, and only goes towards enhancing our confidence that we are thinking along the right lines.
In any case, it’s possible now that the immediate focus at the KSZ will switch back to the shallower areas that look prospective for nickel and copper.
I mentioned last time out that we recently appointed Tamesis to take the lead in our efforts to find a partner for the development of the KSZ, an announcement which came shortly after we issued Richard Hornsey’s ‘Proof of Concept’ report on the KSZ itself.
This report provided proof of the existence of nickel, copper, and platinum group metals-mineralising processes throughout the KSZ, in both the Karoo and Proterozoic Zones…
It highlighted previously unrecognised potential for mineralisation in the south of the project…
And it added other styles of potential mineralisation to the Norilsk-style that we had hitherto been working with. In particular, we are excited by the Platinum Group Element potential in the KSZ South.
This type of affirmation ought to carry a significant amount of weight with the potential partners that Tamesis will be lining up for us.
What type of deal eventually comes on to the table remains to be seen, but it’s long been recognised both inside the company and in the wider market that we’ve been punching above its weight at the KSZ.
Drilling to the depths we’re drilling, working up the models we’ve worked up, and having the aspirations we have – all are more appropriate to much larger mining companies.
Indeed, it’s fair to say that hardly any other junior exploration company has been able to achieve the kinds of things we’ve achieved over the past few years and, what’s more, most don’t even bother trying.
But we’ve always had big aspirations, which is why, if and when we do hit mineralisation at the KSZ, it’s likely to be big, and will require a partner to develop.
Whether we’ll end up needing a partner at Ditau is another matter entirely.
Not forgetting Ditau
Of course, Ditau is a completely different animal, both in terms of target and in terms of scale.
Until the most recent set of drill results we had primarily viewed Ditau as a rare earths opportunity, looking to capitalise on the increased demand for rare earths sourced anywhere other than China, and particularly from safe jurisdictions, like Botswana.
In late August, though, came the news that significant showings of gold had been uncovered in our latest round of drilling at Ditau, along with associated copper.
That sent us back to our models to revisit our previous conceptual work, and we are still in the process of updating our understanding of the geological systems at work at depth at Ditau.
Some reports, on petrology in particular, have yet to come in, so there are still important datasets that will become available to us that we haven’t yet fed into our models.
At this stage, all we really know is that there’s a zone of interest, that there’s an iron-rich hydrothermal breccia that starts at a depth of just over 290 metres, and which extends beyond the depths to which our hole drilled at 393m.
So, we know there’s material down there that’s worth following up on. We’re just working out how best to do it.
Once the remaining data from the recent campaigns comes in, we will also be considering how best to follow up on the other holes that we drilled.
In the meantime, we still have eight drill targets on Ditau which remain untested, and which we still believe have significant potential to yield up a carbonatite structure of the kind that we’re hoping to find rare earths in.
Exactly which of those targets we turn to next remains up for discussion, but we hope to be moving forward on Ditau in a variety of significant ways sooner rather than later.
As things stand today, it seems that the most immediate opportunity we have for making a discovery lies on the KCB, and it’s certainly true that if we do make a discovery there it will be easier to move into production than anything on the KSZ.
One reason for that is that while other companies have successfully developed copper mines in Botswana in the recent past, there’s nothing quite like the KSZ – not in Botswana, and maybe not anywhere.
So, we’ll be breaking new ground in several different ways if we do manage to get the KSZ up and running in a meaningful way.
Whatever happens, though, it looks likely to be quite a ride, with opportunities for value creation jumping out at us from several directions, and lots of near-term newsflow to keep things interesting.
And on that side of things, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.