PAN-AFRICAN mining group Mwana Africa (Mwana) has reported a boost in gold and nickel production in the third and final quarter of 2013 after an increase in tonnage mined and milled at the company’s mines, management said.
In the company’s statement for the quarter ended March 31 2014, Mwana said gold output at its Zimbabwean mine, Freda Rebecca, grew by 2% to 13 380oz, compared to 13 072oz in the previous quarter due to a combination of improved milled tonnes and feed grade.
The company said its Zimbabwean nickel producer Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) reported a 9, 5% growth in concentrate sales to 2 207 tonnes in the period under review.
“We anticipate that at Freda Rebecca, the current focus on mining and processing efficiencies, and at BNC continued progress by Trojan Mine towards steady-state and stronger mill performance, will deliver further operational improvements for the Group in the year ahead,” Mwana CEO Kalaa Mpinga said in a statement.
Processed tonnage at Fredda Rebecca mine went up 8% to 279 879t compared to 258 184t in the last quarter.
Mwana said the increase in tonnage processed is attributed to a 4% increase in throughput as a result of the second mill speed increase and a 4% improvement in running time, attributable to improved maintenance.
The company said average feed was 1% higher at 1,91g/t from 1,89 g/t in the third quarter of 2013 as anticipated.
The growth in gold output saw cash operating costs for the quarter under review decreasing to US$1 053/oz from US$1 066/oz.
However, overall sustaining costs increased by 3% from US$1 291/oz in the last quarter to US$1 325/oz in the period under review following a 10% increase in the asset amortisation charge for the quarter after commissioning of the Tailings Retreatment Project pilot plant.
Mwana said the Tailings Retreatment Project pilot plant commissioning is continuing.
The company said the new transformer for the section had to be returned to the manufacturers for repairs while the agitator drives design has been revisited and upgraded drives are expected during the quarter.
BNC sold 100% of production during the period, with a 1,5% increase in the average nickel price received to US$14 075t attained.
The restart of operations at the Trojan Nickel Mine (owned by Mwana’s Zimbabwe subsidiary BNC) followed four years during which all of the BNC assets were on care and maintenance. In September 2012, BNC carried out a restructuring and recapitalisation involving the investment of US$23 million, enabling BNC to restart the Trojan mine.
Mpinga said operations had generally improved across the group during the fourth and final quarter of the 2013 financial year.
Both gold and nickel production increased, reflecting higher tonnage mined and milled, and diamond production from the Klipspringer Slimes Retreatment Project in South Africa more than doubled quarter on quarter to 12 383 carats.
Currently, Mwana is prospecting for gold, copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo at Zani Kodo and Semkhat.
Mwana’s Freda Rebecca gold mine in Zimbabwe, having restarted operations in 2009, produced 58 704 ozs of gold in the 12 months to March 2014.
In its last full financial year for the period ended March 2013, Mwana reported Freda Rebecca produced 65 350oz of gold in the year, an increase of 36,8% from the March 2012 financial year (47 770oz).
The group said average quarterly production for the financial period was 16 338oz of gold, and the highest level of quarterly gold production was 18 350oz, achieved in the quarter to September 2012.
Chairman Oliver Baring said Mwana raised US$33,5 million with the support of a major investor in the form of China International Mining Group Corporation, which took a 21,7% interest in the group.
“This injection of capital provided sufficient funding to restart BNC’s Trojan nickel mine, and enabled further exploration at our DRC gold and base metals projects. Production at Freda Rebecca continued to increase and it is now once again the single largest gold mine in Zimbabwe.”