Deep-South scores minor victory in licence renewal bid

• By Hilary Mare

COPPER explorer and developer Deep-South Resources has said that the legal counsel of the Ministry of Mines and Energy has failed to file its defence affidavit in the refusal of a licence for the Haib copper project, as ordered by the High Court of Namibia on November 25 2021.

The renewal of the exclusive prospecting licence (EPL) 3140 covering Deep-South’s southern Namibia-based Haib copper project was refused by Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo on June 16 2021.

At the time, the ministry cited Deep-South’s inability to advance the licence to prefeasibility stage and complete the proposed drilling programme as planned.

However, at the time, Deep-South said it was convinced the issue was a misunderstanding; that the mines and energy ministry was informed, with no objection, of a proposed change from the PFS to an upgraded preliminary economic assessment and the start of a full feasibility study.

In addition, Deep-South stated in July that the ministry had issued all permits required for the drilling programme and was well aware that Deep-South had completed the drilling programme.

Going forward, Deep-South says its legal counsel vigorously opposes the extension request and requests the judge to ensure a “just and speedy determination” of the case.

The court will hold another hearing this week, where the latest request of the mines ministry will be considered.

Deep-South intends to “vigorously contest” this decision by all means necessary and available, including under the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act and other applicable laws of Namibia.

Deep-South says the ministry’s counsel stated that it has discovered new documents, which are not part of the record of proceedings, and has consequently requested an extension to file those documents.

The legal counsel filed a joint status report with the court on February 28.

Deep-South’s legal counsel recorded in this status report that the Ministry of Mines and Energy’s counsel previously indicated a complete record having been filed.

However, Deep-South says that, since the start of the procedures, the ministry has failed to provide any evidence supporting the decision of Alweendo to not renew the Haib copper EPL 3140.

From April 2017 to April 2021, Deep-South invested more than US$1.6 million on the project, including an updated preliminary economic assessment.

Since receiving news of the licence refusal, Deep-South has halted all work on the project and laid off its employees on site.

The company had acquired the remainder of the project in 2017 from Teck Resources, which is one of its major shareholders.

The updated PEA in December had put Haib’s after-tax NPV at US$957 million and IRR at 29.7 percent using a US$3 per pound copper price, envisaging a 24-year mine producing 35,332 tonnes per annum of copper cathodes and 51,080tpa copper sulphate.

Deep-South is also investigating its international legal options and said it will disclose its strategy in due course.