Botswana Metals is going from strength to strength since joining forces with government-owned nickel producer BCL Ltd in 2014.
It is weeks away from establishing a maiden resource at the first of three projects covered by the BCL joint venture and has further drilling planned during 2015, for targets both within the three JV projects and in its own 800sq.km-plus prospective holdings.
BCL has been mining and smelting since 1959, 55km southwest of the promising Maibele North project, and it needs more material for its 50,000 tonne nickel-copper matte annual production.
"The longevity of the BCL mine and smelter depends on supplementary ore outside of its existing nickel resources being made available, and we're in the prime position to do this," Botswana Metals executive chairman Pat Volpe said.
The joint venture between the companies has provided a perfect fit of highly prospective underexplored ground and $A4 million towards initial exploration.
The three projects under the Botswana Metals/BCL joint venture are Maibele North (nickel, copper and platinum group elements), and the Airstrip and Dibete copper-silver prospects.
Maibele North has become the priority thanks to thick sulphides discovered during a 6130m drilling program which finished in December.
Some of the best intersections included: 26.43m at 1.65% nickel and 0.54% copper, 29.12m at 0.9% nickel and 0.4% copper, 19m at 0.73 nickel and 0.29% copper, 12m at 1.36% nickel and 0.33% copper, 9m at 1.98% nickel and 0.53% copper, 6.75m at 2.3% nickel and 0.63% copper and 6.23m at 2.01% nickel and 0.57% copper.
All assay results are now in and the joint venture partners appointed the MSA Group, one of Africa's leading mineral exploration consultants, in mid-December to establish a resource calculation and scoping study for Maibele North.
Volpe said Botswana Metals could be in production within two years.
"Our focus is getting the resource calculation for Maibele North by the end of the first quarter of this year," he told RESOURCESTOCKS.
"We'll determine the resource based on the drilling so far, but we are doing EM work on some holes to extend the resource at Maibele.
"It's open to the east and west and at depth and we hope to extend the resource in 2015 through further drilling.
"Then we'll move on to the scoping study and apply for a mining licence.
"If everything goes to plan, we'll be in production in 2016."
The Maibele North nickel-mineralised trend has now been identified over a strike length of at least 2km that includes Airstrip, Maibele North and the Maibele New Zone and remains open to the east, west and at depth.
BCL is spending $4 million on a drilling program to earn 40% of the three projects, then has the option to fund the projects to the completion of a bankable feasibility study and earn a 70% interest.
Airstrip has previously returned grades of up to 22% copper with 1023gpt silver in narrow bornite veins - the best were 60% copper and 2833gpt silver over narrow widths.
Importantly, all of Botswana Metals' prospecting licences are on the Limpopo Mobile Belt that extends into Botswana from Zimbabwe and contains anomalies which could host base and precious metal mineralisation.
This includes the Takane mineral province, where 23 VTEM anomalies have already been identified.
Volpe said the company had earmarked six VTEM anomalous prospects for a 2015 drilling program to target new discoveries.
Most of them are potential nickel-copper targets but two are being targeted as gold anomalies.
The joint venture partners believe there is potential for further discovery of significant base and precious metal mineralisation in this tenement.
"We believe the discovery of significant mineralisation at any of these anomalies will potentially transform this part of the Limpopo Mobile Belt into a new and relatively underexplored mineral province in eastern Botswana," Volpe said.
Botswana Metals' holdings are situated near successful neighbours: Selebi Phikwe nickel mine and the world-class Norilsk-owned Tati nickel mine.
Volpe said the joint venture de-risked the projects and gave Botswana Metals funds to develop the three discovery areas for potential production and cash flow.
"BCL has invested funds for drilling and resource calculation, up to the bankable feasibility study and the joint venture also provides us with access to BCL infrastructure that would have cost us hundreds of millions," he said.
"The planned simple trucking of ore to plant puts us in a unique position as a potential producer in a joint venture with the biggest and world-class BCL mining and smelting operations in Botswana."
BCL is also well connected to market the end product internationally, while also providing local expertise and mining knowledge.
"The joint venture also allows Botswana Metals to focus on other untapped exploration opportunities in our portfolio that have the potential to make a world-class discovery in a new Limpopo belt - and major discoveries have been made along the same belt in neighbouring Zimbabwe," Volpe said.
The joint venture includes just 185sq.km of Botswana Metals' 1000sq.km of highly prospective terrain in the southern African country.
Outside the joint venture area, Volpe said Botswana Metals would work on its 100%-owned Maibele North Extension with drilling planned for this year.
"We believe that this is an exciting place to be at the moment," he said.
The company is backed by a strong board and management team, who have a substantial amount of experience in mining and African nickel deposits.
The region contains established infrastructure, skilled workers and untapped potential.
Volpe said Botswana was dubbed the Switzerland of Africa and the landlocked country was the most politically stable on the continent.
Since gaining independence from Britain in 1966, Botswana has enjoyed continuous peace, democracy and economic stability.
A World Economic Forum public institutions survey in 2006 rated Botswana as the top country in Africa in terms of public governance.
It also ranked as the least corrupt country in Africa and one of the least corrupt in the world (32 out of 159), in the 2005 Transparency International Corruptions Perception Index.
"Botswana has a fantastic regulatory environment and social acceptance of mining," Volpe said.
The government has established an excellent infrastructure of sealed roads, grid power and piped water throughout much of the country and has also made health and education priorities for government spending.
Volpe said coupled with its virtually untapped base metals mineral wealth, Botswana was a very favourable environment to explore and mine.
"We are very excited by the outlook for Botswana Metals," Volpe said.
"We have some fantastic ground that has been relatively underexplored, especially when you compare the similarities it has to nickel projects in Western Australia.
"We have advanced our projects and should establish a resource for Maibele North within weeks.
"We're aggressively pursuing the opportunities our projects represent to potentially generate wealth for our shareholders in a timely fashion," Volpe said.
*A version of this report, first published in the January/February 2015 edition of RESOURCESTOCKS magazine, was commissioned by Botswana Metals.