Central Copper Resources plans Australia/Canada listing for DRC financing

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 18 July 2022 06:00

A production line of copper foil for lithium batteries at Tongling, Anhui province, China. REUTERS/Stringer

Central Copper Resources (CCR) plans to list on either the Australian ASX exchange or the TSX-V exchange in Toronto to raise funds for copper mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, CEO Luke Knight tells The Africa Report.

The listing will seek to raise funds to start production at the Mbamba Kilenda project in western part of DRC, and to conduct further exploration, Knight says in Cape Town. The company is in discussions with brokers on both exchanges. Knight aims to complete the listing by the end of 2022, subject to market conditions, and might wait until early 2023.

Copper is an essential input for energy transition, being needed for electric vehicles, solar and wind power equipment. According to research from IHS Markit in July, demand will grow from 25 million metric tons (MMt) today to about 50 MMt by 2035 and 53 MMt by 2050.

Copper scarcity may emerge as a key destabilizing threat to international security, IHS Markit says: a “chronic gap” between worldwide supply and demand is set to begin in the middle of this decade, potentially reaching 9.9 MMt in 2035.

The Mbamba Kilenda resource of 400,000 tonnes includes a high-grade core of 180,000 tonnes that shows a copper content in excess of 18%, Knight says. In Latin America, even projects with rates of less than 1% attract commercial interest, he says. “I’ve never seen a figure like it anywhere in my life.”

Existing shareholders in CCR include Luxembourg-based African Minerals Exploration & Development (AMED), where Knight previously worked, Red Capital and TSX-listed Silvercorp Metals. The shareholders have said they are willing to back the fundraising with “cornerstone” finance, Knight says. The amount of funding to be sought in the listing is yet to be decided, he adds.

  • CCR at the start of January dropped plans by former CEO Kevin Van Wouw to list on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
  • Knight, who took over as CEO in January, says that AIM is more “production-oriented” in terms of mining, while ASX and TSX-V investors reward exploration.

Colonial discovery

Mineral exploration in the DRC has historically focused on the south of the country, with the west largely ignored. The Mbamba Kilenda project is about 80 kilometres south of Kinshasa.  Copper deposits in the region were first picked up by a geological survey carried out by Belgian colonialists in the 1950s. The survey was uncovered by Ross McGowan, now a non-executive director at Central Copper, in research at the University of Liège.

The company has a 65% stake in the Mbamba Kilenda project, with a local partner holding the rest. An area of 85 kilometres in the Mbamba Kilenda license area remains to be explored, Knight says. Subject to funding and the completion of a definitive feasibility study, Knight aims to bring  Mbamba Kilenda into production by the end of 2023. CCR could operate the mine itself, or bring in contract miners, Knight says.

  • The plan is to move the copper by road to the river port at Matadi for onward distribution. Knight describes the tarred road from Kinshasa to Matadi as “the best in the country” and says solar or hydroelectric power are the most likely energy sources to power the mine.

CCR may also seek finance for its other projects as part of the planned listing.

  • The company owns 100% of the Titan copper project in the DRC, which is next to the world’s second-largest copper mine, Kamoa-Kakula. CCR is also in advanced exploration at the wholly owned Lunga project in Zambia.

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