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Namibian copper miner disposing assets

London-listed Namibian copper miner, Weatherly Intern ational Plc, is converting one of its mines, Tschudi copper mine, into an open pit operation ahead of its re-opening.

But the company said it is shedding off some of its costly Namibian mines.

Weatherly International Plc, which owns the Namibian operations – Weatherly Mini ng Namibia – mothballed five copper mines last December, citing shrinking revenue as copper prices bottomed out on the internat ional market. More than 620 workers were thrown into the streets.

Since then, the copper miner, which is listed on Londonâ?s Alternative Investme nt Market (AIM), a sub-market of London stock exchange which allows smaller firms to float shares with a more flexible regulatory syste m than what is allowed on the main market, has not signaled when it would re-start the mines.

Weatherly said in a trading update Wednesday that it is disposing off its smalle r, costly assets.

â?The companyâ?s stated strategy is to divest the smaller, higher cost assets and focus on those that will make a significant impact in the future,â? Rod Webs ter, Weatherly CEO, said.

The firm owns five underground copper mines; Matchless, Otjihase, Tsumeb West, K ombat and Tschudi, though Kombat, a wet underground mine, was shut down early 2008 due to flooding.

The company also owns a copper refinery and smelting plant, Namibian Customs Sme lters, which is run separately from the mining business.

Management said that of all Weatherly assets, it is Tschudi which the company ho pes to retain into its fold. Feasibility studies have proven the viability of converting Tschudi into an open pit operation. The mine is also closely located to the smelter in Tsumeb.

â?The development of an open pit project at Tschudi, which is located 26 km by road from the Tsumeb concentrator and smelter, in particular has significant potential and is likely to be our future focus,â? Webster said.

He said that Tschudi had an estimated resource of about 356, 385 tonnes of coppe r.

Admitting that the mining operation is skating on thin ice because of a precario us financial position, Webster said that proceeds from the disposal of the other mining operations would be used to settle a whopping US$12 million debt pl us interest.

â?We have also received expressions of interest from a number of parties potent ially interested in acquiring our mining assets. Weatherly is currently reviewin g

the various alternatives open to it and will take a decision to divest or to pla ce these mines back into production,â? Webster said.

The company said that its smelting business had been doing well. During the firs t six months of 2009, the smelter treated 29,994 tonnes of concentrates, against

29,546 tonnes of concentrates treated in the previous quarter.

â?Namibian Custom Smelters has been successfully transformed from a tied, downs tream processing plant to a standalone tolling business,â? Webster said.

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