Freda full scale production in March

HARARE - Listed resources group Mwana Africa (Mwana) says it expects its gold miner Freda Rebecca (Freda) to resume full capacity production in March, following a leach tank explosion a week ago.

Meanwhile, Freda has restarted limited production.

The explosion had forced Mwana, which owns 85 percent in Freda Rebecca, to briefly stop production at the Bindura-based mine.

Mwana said the Freda’s short-term productivity is expected to be affected by the stoppage.

“Management expects to restore 50 percent of production levels by the end of February and to maintain this level through March and at present are targeting restoration of full production by the end of March,” said Mwana this week.

 “It is expected that the incident will in the short-term affect production levels and in the medium term affect gold recovery.

Management guidance for gold production for the 12 months ending March 2013 is set at 63 000oz.”

Freda is currently operating at an annualised production rate of 72 000 ounces per year. It produced 18 350 ounces of gold in the quarter ended September last year.

However, the mine’s output in the fourth quarter ended December slipped 10 percent to 16 506 ounces.

“We express our appreciation of the work done by local management in collaboration with government authorities at the national and local level in dealing quickly and efficiently with the situation,” said Kalaa Mpinga, Mwana’s chief executive.

Mwana’s principal operations and exploration activities cover gold, nickel, copper and diamonds in Zimbabwe, the DRC and South Africa.

In 2012, Zimbabwe produced 14 742 tonnes of gold, a significant 13,5 percent increase from the previous year’s production.

The country pocketed $782, 75 million from gold revenue, which gold earnings also firming up by 18,9 percent on the back of a rise in gold prices on international markets.

Regardless of fears over the Indigenisation Policy, most of the mining companies in Zimbabwe are maintaining their investments while others such as Zimplats and Mimosa are keen to expand operations and ramp up output.

There are several gold mining companies in Zimbabwe which include Caledonia Mining Corporation as well as New Dawn and RioZim’s Renco.

Last month, Mwana announced that construction of a pilot plant at Freda had begun with commissioning expected in the third quarter of the year.

The group said significant progress had been made in the evaluation of the economic potential of the tailings storage facilities, which are part of the project.

The pilot plant would be used to gather data and conduct variability test work, which determines optimum operating conditions and design parameters for a potential future larger scale facility.

Mpinga said the initial results from the test work on the tailings were encouraging.

“Should the results from the pilot plant prove that retreatment of the tailings is viable, a full-scale tailings retreatment plant has the potential to contribute significantly to yearly gold production at Freda,” he said.

Since Freda started production in 1988, significant tailings had been deposited over three main storage facilities in the mine lease area.

A non-compliant indication of the available tonnage contained within the targeted north and south tailings facilities are estimated at 13,5 million tonnes. - Business Writer

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