Motheo Copper Mine is located in Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana. (Credit: Sandfire Resources)
Motheo Copper Mine Process Plant. (Credit: Sandfire Resources)
The first copper concentrate was produced in May 2023. (Credit: arbyreed/ Flickr)

Motheo Copper Mine is located in Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana about 70km from the town of Ghanzi, Botswana.

The Project is owned by Tshukudu Metals Botswana, an in-country subsidiary of Sandfire Resources acquired through MOD Resources in October 2019.

The project involves the development of the T3 and A4 sediment-hosted copper and silver deposits. The A4 deposit is located 8km west of T3.

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was prepared and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) by Tshukudu Metals in December 2018. The EIA was approved by DEA in June 2020.

Sandfire announced the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) of open pit mine development with a 3.2 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) processing capacity of the T3 Deposit in December 2020. The Initial life of mine of the project is estimated to be 12.5 years.

The project construction commenced in 2021 and in May 2023, Sandfire announced that it has produced the first copper concentrate at Motheo.

The final investment decision (FID) for the $259m T3 Motheo Copper Silver Project was followed by the completion of DFS on a base case 3.2Mtpa operation with the potential to expand to 5.2Mtpa.

Location and Geology

The T3 deposit occurs within the Ghanzi-Chobe belt, approximately 80 km northeast of Ghanzi and 200 km southwest of Maun, on the western side of Botswana.

The Prospecting Licence (PL) PL 190/2008 includes the T3 and A4 deposits and forms part of the regionally extensive Kalahari Copper Belt.

The PL extends 1,000 km along the Neoproterozoic age Damara Mobile Belt and is located within Ghanzi District.

Motheo Copper Project Expansion

The definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for the 5.2Mtpa Motheo Copper Project expansion, inclusive of the A4 Deposit Ore Reserve was announced by Sandfire in August 2022.

The July 2021 Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource for A4, at a 0.5% Cu cut-off, constrained within a $4.50/lb Cu price optimised pit shell, is 9.8 million tonnes (Mt) grading 1.4% Cu and 22g/t for 134,000t of contained copper and 6.6Moz of contained silver.

The combined total reserve for the A4 and T3 deposit is 49.6Mt at 1.0% Cu and 14g/t Ag for 474kt of contained copper and 21.3Moz of contained silver.

Ore processing

The T3 deposit is planned to be mined by a mining contractor, using a conventional truck and excavator method with Sandfire maintaining orebody definition, quality control, mine planning functions, and management.

The project development plan including the open pit mining method, design, and extraction sequence was selected based on to the orebody characteristics. The open pit design allows safe mining operations and minimises dilution and ore loss while meeting the process plant capacity and feed grades.

Ore is planned to be either directly fed into the primary crusher or sent to a run-of-mine (ROM) stockpile to increase opportunity for ore blending.  The Ore will be processed through a conventional process plant with an annual throughput of up to 3.2 million tonnes at a head grade of 1.0% copper and 13.2g/t silver.


Probable Ore Reserve of 39.9Mt at 0.9% Cu and 12.2g/t Ag for 360,000t of contained copper metal and 15.6Moz of contained silver.

The project is estimated to produce an average 30kt of contained copper and 1.2Moz of contained silver per annum over the first 10 years of operations.


The project infrastructure includes haul roads connected to a waste rock dump, mineralised waste dump, a low-grade stockpile, and a ROM pad.

The project infrastructure includes surface water diversion channels, dewatering bores, light and heavy vehicle workshop facilities, explosives storage, processing facilities, supply facilities, technical services facilities, and administration facilities.

The process plant site is located west of the open pit and the Waste Rock Dump (WRD) is located south of the pit. The Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) is designed with a storage capacity of 34.4Mt, based on a production rate of 3.0Mtpa over 11.5 years.

The Power required for the mining operations will be procured via a grid connection with the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC). Sandfire plans to execute a Life of Mine (LOM) Power Supply Agreement (PSA) with BPC.

The Company is also evaluating the approvals required for the installation of a 12-15 MWp solar PV plant as well as a 2-4 MW Li-ion battery energy storage system (BESS).

Raw water required for plant operations will be sourced from pit dewatering bores. The water will be pumped to the dewatering transfer pond located adjacent to the open pit and to the raw water pond located in the process plant.

Contractors Involved

In June 2021, Perenti Global announced that its subsidiary, African Mining Services (AMS), has been awarded a contract for open pit mining services at Motheo Copper Project in Botswana.

In December 2020, Lycopodium was awarded a contract to provide Engineering and Procurement (EP) services for Motheo Copper following earlier completion of the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) and Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) for the project.

Lycopodium was initially awarded the EP contract, and later the Construction Management (CM) component has been added to make it a complete Engineering, Procurement, and Construction Management (EPCM) delivery.

Sandfire engaged several consultants for the design and implementation stages of the Motheo project, including Knight Piésold for the tailings storage facility, Wood for Mining Geotechnical services, and AQ2 for providing Hydrology services.

In April 2023, AMS was supplied a 15.65m wide by 20m long Truss Shelter by DomeShelter Australia.