Joint Venture with FQM and African Pioneer
African Pioneer plc (“APP” or the “Company”), the exploration and resource development company with projects in Namibia, Zambia and Botswana announces that on 19 January 2022 it and its 80% owned subsidiary African Pioneer Zambia Ltd (“African Pioneer Zambia”) entered into an option agreement with First Quantum Minerals Ltd (“First Quantum”) (listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange FM.TO) in relation to 4 of the 5 Zambian exploration licences held by African Pioneer Zambia (the “Option Agreement”).
The four exploration licences the subject of the Option Agreement are in the highly prospective Central Africa Copperbelt in northwest Zambia which is the largest and most prolific mineralized sediment- hosted copper province in the world and are located less than 100km from First Quantum’s giant Sentinel copper mine.
The exploration licenses include geological formations similar in age and rock type to that hosting the major copper deposits of the Copperbelt
During the initial 18 month option period First Quantum has the right but not the obligation to spend US500,000 on each of the exploration licences 27767-HQ-LEL, 27768-HQ-LEL, 27770-HQ-LEL, and 27771-HQ-LEL (the “Zambian Projects”). At this stage First Quantum will not have earned any shares in African Pioneer Zambia, just the right to proceed to take one or more of the properties into the First Earn In Period by issuing an Option Exercise Notice.
During the First Earn In Period, First Quantum then has 2 years when it has the right but not the obligation to prepare a Technical Report in respect of the Zambian Projects demonstrating an Indicated Mineral Resource of at least 300,000 tonnes of contained copper (the “Technical Report Requirement”). First Quantum is to fund the Technical Report. Once the Technical Report is issued First Quantum has the right to be issued shares equal to a 51% shareholding in African Pioneer Zambia. This will also trigger the Second Earn-In Period.
In the Second Earn-In Period First Quantum shall have the right but not the obligation to complete all necessary mining, metallurgical and development studies to establish a mine at the Property and make a public announcement that it intends to proceed towards commercial development of a Mine on the Property (a “Decision to Mine”). First Quantum is to fund all costs related to the Decision to Mine. Once First Quantum announces a Decision to Mine First Quantum has the right to be issued shares in African Pioneer Zambia to increase their 51% shareholding in African Pioneer Zambia to 75%.
Executive Chairman, Colin Bird said:
“We are very pleased that we have entered into this agreement with First Quantum, which has one of the world’s largest copper mines nearby and has a wealth of exploration, mining and technical expertise built up over the last 25 years. The exploration areas are large and are highly prospective not only for copper but also cobalt in association.
Myself and the team have previous good working experience of the First Quantum Group and on that basis know that the exploration of the project will be approached in a highly technical and commercial way. We will keep the market informed on progress as it happens.”
First Quantum: is one of the world’s top 10 copper producers operating in several countries including Zambia where it owns the Sentinel and Kansanshi mines in North West Zambia and is known for its specialist technical engineering construction and operational skills which have allowed it to develop and successfully run complex mines and processing plants. Colin Bird, the chairman of African Pioneer, was a founder of and floated Kiwara Plc in around 2008 which discovered copper in northwest Zambia and was sold to First Quantum in 2009 for U$260 million. First Quantum then developed the Kiwara Plc projects into the Sentinel mine which is the world’s 14th largest copper mine.
Zambian Projects: The licence package covers part of the north-western extension of the Zambian Copperbelt. The properties are located within 80-100km of First Quantum’s giant Sentinel copper mine, one of the largest copper mines in Africa, with current Measured and Indicated Resources of 891Mt @ 0.45% Cu. They also lie close to the Enterprise nickel deposit (37.7Mt @ 1.03% Ni) which is being reportedly moved towards development. This link is to a map of the Zambian Projects.