Deep-South in Haib licence dilemma

…as ministry holds back on renewal

By Hilary Mare

DEEP-SOUTH Resources last week met with mines minister Tom Alweendo and other officials of the Ministry of Mines and Energy to voice its objections to Alweendo’s refusal to renew its Haib copper licence.
Earlier this month, Deep-South received notice from the ministry stating that its application for the renewal of its exploration and prospecting licence (EPL) was denied on the grounds that Deep-South had been unable to advance the EPL to prefeasibility stage and complete the proposed drilling programme as planned.
However, in a statement, Deep-South says the Ministry of Mines and Energy was kept well apprised, with no objection on its part, of a proposed change from the prefeasibility study to an upgraded preliminary economic assessment (PEA) and the start of a full feasibility study.
Moreover, the company states that the ministry had issued all permits required for the drilling programme and are aware that Deep-South has completed that programme.
During last week’s meeting, representatives of Deep-South informed Alweendo of the work in progress on the project and discussed the reasons provided by him for the refusal to renew the EPL covering the Haib copper project.
As a result of the meeting, Alweendo informed Deep-South that he will review all the information provided and reconsider his decision, which will be communicated to Deep-South in due course.
Deep-South chairperson John Akwenye states that the meeting was good and that the company is hopeful its representations to Alweendo will reach a positive outcome.

PROJECT PROGRESS

In its application for renewal and subsequent representations made to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Deep-South says it has “clearly demonstrated that it adequately meets” the criteria under the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act of Namibia to justify the renewal of its EPL.
Accordingly, Deep-South says its opinion is that the refusal to renew its EPL is “unreasonable and unjustified”.
Nonetheless, as a result of Alweendo’s refusal to renew the EPL, Deep-South has suspended all work on site and hopes that the retrenchment of its employees will be avoided.
Deep-South says it has demonstrated to Alweendo that, during the past two tenures (from April 2017 to April this year), it has invested N$23 million with the completion of, besides other elements, a National Instrument 43 101 resource estimation, a PEA, a large 2t sampling and bio heap-leach test, geological mapping, modelling and an upgraded PEA.
In addition, in its renewal application, Deep-South proposed a feasibility study programme with a budget of N$80million.
The programme was underway with three drill rigs and 42 employees on site.
METS Engineering and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia have also started metallurgical tests, bio-leaching, high-pressure grinding roller tests and a flow sheet enhancement programme in two laboratories in Australia.
Knight Piesold also has four scoping studies underway, covering water use, alternative power solutions, leach pad assessment, and environmental path to the environmental- and social-impact assessment.
Deep-South has also informed the Ministry of Mines and Energy that, upon completion of the feasibility study, it is planning to build a pilot plant on site at an estimated cost of N$286 million.