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Riozim gold output slumps

Eric Chiriga

MINING concern, Rio Tinto Zimbabwe, produced a total 5 787 ounces of gold worth $405,8 billion in the first quarter of 2006, a slight decrease from 5 956 ounces produced during the same period last year,
According to Riozim’s quarterly production rep

ort, total ounces produced in the fourth quarter of 2005 amounted to 5 787 ounces, the same figure for this year’s first quarter.

Riozim, which owns Renco gold mine, said the gold ore treated in first quarter of 2006 amounted to 62 801 tonnes, with an average ore grade of 3,54 grammes per tonne (g/t).

Riozim reported that during the year 2005, the highest amount of gold produced was in the third quarter of last year at 6 347 ounces, out of 66 367 tonnes of treated ore.

Empress Nickel Refinery (Empress), also owned by Riozim, produced 1 527 tonnes of nickel in the first quarter of 2006 compared to 1 604 produced in the same period last year. Empress also produced the largest amount during the third quarter of last year.

The amount of nickel produced during that peak period was 1 717 tonnes.

Riozim further reported that Murowa diamonds, a 22% owned subsidiary, recovered $48 472 carat of diamonds out of 65 575 tonnes of treated ore in the first quarter of 2006.

According to the report, Sengwa Coal Mine sold 41 102 tonnes in the same period.

Riozim holds a 50% stake of Sengwa.

Riozim recently assumed operational control of the coal-rich Sengwa Mine following a new agreement with its partner, Beta Coal Ltd.

Riozim was exploiting Sengwa in partnership with Beta Coal through a coal mining tribute arrangement.

The new agreement with Beta Coal commenced on October 1, 2005.

Riozim took over mining operations from that date.

Rio intends to use the coal from Sengwa to drive three coal-powered electricity generation plants owned by national power utility Zesa.

The Sengwa project has the capacity to boost Zimbabwe’s power generation capacity ahead of the expiry of the existing power import agreements in 2007.

The Sengwa mine’s claim covers 4 735 hectares with over 1,3 billion tonnes of coal with an expected life span of over 200 years.

Meanwhile, Riozim said that feasibility work on a small open cast gold resource are continuing with good prospects of starting operations in the fourth quarter of 2006.

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