Mwana ramps up Zim gold output, nickel sales

HARARE - Aim-listed Mwana Africa Plc (Mwana) says its Zimbabwean operations — nickel producer Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) and gold miner Freda Rebecca — performed better in the quarter ended March 2014 with production increasing.

Its chief executive, Kalaa Mpinga, said both gold and nickel output increased on the back of higher tonnage mined and milled.

He said the increased production will help bolster the group’s bottom line.

During the period under review, Freda Rebecca’s gold output went up two percent to

13 380 ounces while average grade increased to 1,91 grammes per tonne.

Cash operating costs dropped to $1 053 per ounce from $1 066.

Mpinga said commissioning of Freda Rebecca’s tailings retreatment pilot plant is continuing.

BNC sold 2 207 tonnes of nickel concentrate during the quarter, a 9,5 percent increase on the previous quarter.

While all-sustaining costs increased to $12 220 from

$11 819 per tonne, this was a function of the continued ramp-up of the facility and shaft “re-deepening”.

The nickel price achieved increased 1,5 percent to $14 075 a tonne.

“We anticipate… continued progress by Trojan Mine (BNC’s subsidiary) towards steady-state and stronger mill performance will deliver further operational improvements for the group in the year ahead,” said Mpinga.

Turning to diamonds in South Africa and in particular the Marsfontein slimes dam at the Klipspringer Mine, Mwana production doubled to 12 383 carats which were sold at an average $21 a carat.

On the Zani-Kodo deposit, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, resource conversion drilling is underway, while the 2014 exploration of the Semhkat copper-cobalt project, also in the DRC, is set to start.

The latest development comes after pan African resources company has shown interest in investing in local coal producers following reports that it intends to restart its platinum smelting plants in Bindura which have been down since 2009.

The smelting plants use a lot of electricity hence the need to have guaranteed power supplies.

Early this month Mpinga and officials from Freda Rebecca and Bindura Nickel Corporation visited Coalbrick Mine in Hwange to thrash out a partnership deal that will see continuous supply of coal.

Mpinga said Mwana was looking at partnering a local coal producer ahead of its plans to restart its smelting plants hence the visit was meant to see production levels at Coalbrick Mine.

“In this industry it is common to pay courtesy visits to each other and this visit is such.

However, since we are working on restarting our smelters which have been down since 2009 this is a good opportunity to see how we can get the coal to fire the plants,” said Mpinga.

He said his company in the past resorted to importing coal from South Africa following limited supply from Hwange Colliery Company, a situation that resulted in the company shutting down its smelters as foreign currency became hard to come by.

The development forced the company to export concentrate resulting in loss of other minerals that are extracted in nickel processing.

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