National elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have held up African Metals (AFR-V) in the development of its Luisha South copper and cobalt project.
The turmoil around the elections – elections in which Joseph Kabila was declared the winner amidst much speculation over the authenticity of the results – led to key expatriate contractors having to leave the country. Their exit came after violent clashes were reported between supporters of different presidential candidates.
The exodus of key personnel put a halt to the construction of the dense media separation (DMS) plant. The company reports, however, that the contractors have now returned as the political situation has stabilized somewhat.
And as if political turmoil wasn’t enough, heavy seasonal rain storms also contributed to delays, as the wet weather halted the concreting and plant assembly programs. With the DMS module needing to be hauled on to concrete pads the company found the conditions to wet to do any towing. It says such delays have put it back “several weeks” from opening the plant and that it is continuing to drain the site of access water.
African Metals says final assembly will continue into January but it expects to have the plant running and processing ore from stockpiles on site by the early part of the month.
As for what has been finished, the company reports that the feed bin, primary crusher, control units and generator are all in place, and that the assembly of the spirals bank and conveyor belt modules are also finished.
Africa Metals has a 75% stake in Luisha South with an option to increase its stake to 90%.
The project sits 80-km northwest of Lubumbashi in the copper rich Katanga province of the DRC. The site hosted a historic mine that produced 230,000 tonnes of ore at 10.1% copper and 2% cobalt. The mine was closed in the 1940s.
The DMS plant is expected to produce concentrates grading 32% copper and 1.2% cobalt, while the spiral plant should produce concentrates grading 28% copper and 1.6% cobalt.
The company plans to begin processing stockpiled ore that amounts to 380,000 tonnes grading 1% copper and 0.4% cobalt and says it can generate US$1.3 million in revenue from the stockpiles from a US$500,000 investment.
In Toronto on Dec. 30 the company’s shares were flat at 12¢. Its shares have fluctuated between 44¢ and 12¢ over the last 52-week period.