Noronex feels its Witvlei project in Namibia has solid potential to position the company as a major player in the Kalahari copper belt – and it’s got the right team to get there. 

The company has recruited former senior Sandfire executives, Bruce Hooper and Robert Klug who both have an extensive understanding of the region and its sedimentary copper style of mineralisation.

To put this in context – both Hooper and Klug were integral in Sandfire’s $160m takeover of Mod Resources Ltd (ASX: MOD) in 2019, which focused on the T3 copper deposit on the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana – where Sandfire is currently spending US$250 million on developing a 40 million tonnes at 0.9% copper open pit project.

“They’re the guys who oversaw the Sandfire/ Mod transaction, so they knew the area, they knew the style of mineralisation, they understood corporately why this area is of interest,” Noronex (ASX:NRX) executive director James Thompson said.

“We’ve put together the projects, and the people to really give this a red hot go and we think we’ve got a good chance of expanding the current resource quite dramatically.”

Modern exploration planned

The project has a current JORC (2012) resource of 10 million tonnes at 1.3% copper in four deposits based on around 150,000m of previous drilling.  Importantly, this resource is all at shallow, open pit depths from surface.

“That’s a decent start, just based on the historic drilling, but what we’re doing is using new technology and geophysics to expand the project,” Thompson said.

“We flew the first ever aerial EM survey over the area, we’ve also done some IP but the key thing that happened was we were able to pick up a database of about 8,000 soil geochemical samples.

“Our chief geologist was able to track it down and we’ve been able to use that as part of our review and it actually lit up some really highly anomalous zones which have never been followed up with drilling.

“Now what we’re doing is using modern technology that just wasn’t available or wasn’t nearly as strong over a decade ago, as well as the dramatically improved understanding of sedimentary copper projects to run a new pass over the project.”

The company has just kicked off a 10,000m RC drilling program at Witvlei targeting five high priority targets that it has generated with this review.

2020s will be the decade of copper

Thompson said the company is well placed to build high-value copper resources across its projects (it also has other ground in Namibia and a promising copper project in Canada with a JORC resource).

He also sees a solid opportunity in copper, with exploration success and mine grades globally declining – and demand being driven by industrialisation and electrification.

“The 2020s is going to be the decade of copper, it really looks like everything’s lining up from what we can see,” he said.

“And it’s not just us, it’s Goldman Sachs and Macquarie and a bunch of industry analysts that are really focused on copper, as well as the majors looking to now acquire and grow their copper project inventory.

“The main drivers on the demand side are electrification and industrialisation – obviously the electric vehicle/renewable push is going to have huge incremental demand for copper.

“And industrialisation with the World Bank talking about a billion people moving to the middle class in the next decade, and they all need more copper as their income increases.”

Project timing couldn’t be better

On the supply side, Thompson said there’s been very little exploration success over the last decade in copper.

“On the ASX in particular there’s really a lack of high-quality copper exploration companies, so we can see corporately, from the capital markets perspective, there’s a gap there that we’d like to fill,” he said.

“It takes a long time to set up a new copper mine – and a lot of the new mines being started are low grade porphyry mines, these tend to have grades of 0.4-0.5% and really rely on the gold credits, they cost billions to set up and are just getting harder to develop.

“So, we decided to focus on these sedimentary copper projects which had higher grade, potential for large deposits and, if we can find and develop a copper project into this looming copper deficit, the timing should be really good.”




This article was developed in collaboration with Noronex, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.