Mwana Africa’s Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) has spent US$7 million in acquiring new equipment and refurbishing existing machinery as the company seeks to grow its business.
BNC managing director Batirai Manhando said this week new mobile plant equipment has been purchased and this, together with the equipment that has been refurbished, will enable mining to start ramping up to steady state monthly targets during the last quarter ended December 2014.
“We have spent between US$6 million and US$7 million capital in acquiring new equipment and refurbishing our machinery. We purchased dump trucks, rigs and long haul dumps” said Manhando.
Nickel in concentrate production was 30% lower at 1,383 tonnes in the third quarter down from 1,989 tonnes obtained in the second quarter.
Manhango said this was mainly attributed to equipment refurbishment exercise alongside the ongoing maintenance which reduced resources available for mining development and restricted access to massives.
This resulted in a 23% drop in mill head grade with recoveries down 2% than in September as a result of the lower nickel head grade.
Nickel sales were 31% lower quarter on quarter from 2 008 tonnes to 1,395 tonnes as a result of lower production volumes.
Manhando said Nickel global demand was likely to balloon prompting a price increase due to massive construction works in China.
The Nickel mining company is still in the process of raising US$26,5 million required to start the smelter after starting marketing a US$20 million bond in December 2014.
So far a substantial amount of US$15 million has been subscribed before the extended closure date of February 27, 2015.
Work has continued on the smelter restart with the delivery of the furnace bricks expected during the last quarter of the financial year.
The company seeks to reopen the smelter to produce high quality nickel cathodes, copper sulphide and cobalt hydroxide.
In January the mine milled 39 904 tonnes of ore to produce 427 tonnes of nickel in concentrate.
Recoveries and grade showed an improvement in January of 8, 1% and 1, 5% respectively, compared to the December quarter ended December 2014.
Management anticipates that all in sustaining costs will recover in Q4,providing the nickel price remains at US$15000 per tonne.
At Fredda Rebecca Gold, production decreased by 14% to 14,298 ounces from 16,555 ounces (Q2 2015) despite greater mill throughput.
Tonnes milled rose by 0,8% to 322,216t against the backdrop of a 1,8% increase in mill throughput made possible by the partial pre-crushing of feed material.
Tonnes mined were reduced as production was focused on accumulated ore stockpiles from the two previous quarters.
The average feed grade was 16% below the feed grade for Q2 2015 as the main production stopes posted lower than expected grades
Gold recovery rate fell to 78% (Q2 2015: 80%) as the plant had to cope with a low-quality replacement carbon batch which resulted in gold being lost through fine carbon and being passed to tailings.
The defective carbon batch has subsequently been replaced
Cash costs for the quarter under review increased by 27% to US$1,118/oz from the September quarter’s US$880/oz as a result of the 14% decrease in gold production and a 10% increase in operating costs.
“All-in sustaining costs rose by 23% to US$1,304/ozn quarter-on-quarter from US$1,061/oz in September. Royalties for the quarter decreased by 37% due to lower gold production and to lower royalty rates introduced in October. However, the benefit was countered by an increase in operating costs mainly due to mill shell realignments and clutch replacement costs being realised,” said Mwana Africa.