Oliver Baring, the chairperson of Mwana Africa, the holding company for Freda Rebecca Mine and Bindua Nickel Corporation, told shareholders last week that the refurbishment programme had been completed and the mine remained on schedule to commence full-scale commercial production before month end.
“Mining has begun and the primary crusher entered commissioning in mid-August 2009 and the milling and leaching circuits were commissioned from 9th September 2009,” said Baring.
The mine was put under “care and maintenance” in 2006 as a result of a number of challenges. It was forced to close as operation expenses weighed heavily on the company and also as a result of the Reserve Bank’s failure to pay for gold delivered.
Resuming production, according to Baring, entailed overcoming a number of “technical and logistical hurdles”.
Tasks which have so far been achieved include the successful commissioning of the number one milling circuit, and the refurbishment of leach tanks.
Freda Rebecca has also completed the removal of water from the mine shafts as well as rehabilitating the workshop facilities.
Water wells up in disused mines and removing it is one of the major challenges which, has to be undertaken before resuming production.
“A limited number of additional mining vehicles have been purchased and delivered to site. The installation and commissioning of additional local switchgear, carried out by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has increased the reliability of power supply to the mine,” Baring said.
“For the first time, Freda Rebecca is able to draw power from the same reliable source as Bindura Nickel Corporation’s nearby smelter. Freda Rebecca continues its recruitment programme to identify and employ skilled individuals in line with its staffing requirements, and has been successful in attracting skilled labour both from within Zimbabwe and from abroad.”
The mine has a potential to produce 30 000 ounces of gold annually after the completion of the first phase of refurbishments.
This figure should increase 66% to 50 000 ounces if the mining company completes the anticipated second phase.