SMALL CAP SHARE IDEAS: Arc Minerals looks to join roster of Zambian copper mines


Zambia houses some of the world’s most productive copper mines.

But it’s far from fully explored and Aim-listed Arc Minerals might have hit upon another major deposit in the country.

Arc is focused on the Zamsort and Zaco licences in the north-west of the country and an area that is attracting increasing interest from the copper mining giants. But Arc is there already and excitement has started to build following the start of a maiden drill programme.

Junior miner Arc Minerals is hoping to have hit upon a major copper deposit in Zambia

Junior miner Arc Minerals is hoping to have hit upon a major copper deposit in Zambia

Nick von Schirnding, Arc’s chairman, said the company spent 12 months sampling the soil and doing extensive geophysical and scientific tests to identify the best spots to start.

Twelve potential sites were identified of which Cheyeza East and West were two of the promising. Assays so far have indicated grades higher than seen in that area of Zambia for decades, says von Schirnding.

More results are due in the coming months but so encouraged has the company been that a drill rig has been pulled away from Cheyeza West to accelerate the exploration with a third rig to arrive shortly from neighbouring DRC.

The aim is to establish a JORC or industry-standard resource for the deposit after which the company can look seriously at development plans.

Von Schirnding believes there is major potential on the licence. ‘We are spoilt for choice,’ he says about new sites for drilling.

That optimism was bolstered earlier this year when consultants employed by Arc to work through the data it had collected identified a new copper ‘strike’ in the western portion of the licence.

Known as West Lunga, this taps into the same zone that hosts the world-class Kamoa operation, a copper deposit being developed by a consortium led by Ivanhoe Mines.

The consultants Arc are using – African Mining Consultants and Douglas Haynes Discovery – were also behind the Kamoa discovery. 

West Lunga will also likely become a high priority drill target says von Schirnding.  Like Kamoa, it is in the Central African Copperbelt that has been a focus of exploration and mining for centuries.

House broker SP Angel said the successful intersection of copper at Cheyeza boosts the possibility of a further discovery at West Lunga.

Having found anomalous copper in soil samples over the entire 6km of strike it is possible that ARC might have discovered a higher-grade portion of the Lufilian Arc, said the broker.

The Lufilian Arc zone hosts several of highest-grade copper mines in Zambia and the DRC before it heads towards Namibia. If that is the case, Arc is likely to be worth a lot more than the current market cap of £33million at 4.82p.

Copper explorer Solgold, for example, became a twenty-bagger and is now worth more than £500million after the mining majors got involved with its Cascabel copper prospect in Ecuador.

There is no suggestion yet that Arc will unearth anything of the magnitude of Cascabel, but SP Angel is nonetheless upbeat about the results so far.

Arc also still have two gold deposits, but these are up for sale and should provide funds to continue the copper exploration programme

Arc also still have two gold deposits, but these are up for sale and should provide funds to continue the copper exploration programme

‘While it is still early days with just five drill holes into the deposit the results already appear to indicate good potential for a mineable copper resource on further definition.

‘The potential value of a significant copper discovery is likely to be a multiple of the current market capitalisation with the market recognising the value of the discovery on further drill results and resource estimation.’

Von Schirnding calls the results so far the first tick in the box. The aim is to get the JORC resource established within six months at which point the potential will be clearer.

Arc does still have two gold deposits, but these are up for sale and should provide funds to continue the copper exploration programme.

Von Schirnding estimates its gold assets in the DRC and Serbia have a combined 3million ounces, a resource that becoming increasingly valuable with the price at a five-year high.

Copper, though, is the focus and more encouragement recently has come from suggestions it too will benefit from an expected boom in electric vehicles as it will be required to connect huge numbers of home chargers.

It is one more plus for Arc at present as is the potential for another battery metal, cobalt, to be discovered in commercial quantities alongside the copper.

Admittedly, there is a long way to go and the normal early-stage mining development risks apply, but Arc is one junior that looks to have a lot going for it.



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