Mixed fortunes for Asa Resources

HARARE - Asa Resources Plc (Asa), formerly Mwana Africa, said it recorded mixed fortunes in the quarter to June after gold and diamond sales registered strong performances while nickel sales failed to rise to the occasion.

In the period under review, the group’s gold sales went up two percent quarter-on-quarter to 14 463 ounces and diamond sales jumped 74 percent quarter-on-quarter to 30 888 carats but nickel declined by 31 percent to 1 555 tonnes.

The multi-commodity miner attributed the growth in gold sales to higher head grade at its Zimbabwean Freda Rebecca operation which was nine percent higher at 1,96 grammes per tonne compared to 1,80 grammes per tonne recorded in the previous quarter.

“Although gold sales at Freda Rebecca were marginally ahead at 14 463 ounces for the quarter, it’s true to say that we were on target to achieve higher output for the last two quarters, but for the incident…that temporarily impacted production,” Asa executive chairman Yat Hoi Ning said.

“Up to that point, Freda’s output was consistent with its new annual target of 70 000 ounces characterised by the trend set in the preceding three quarters of 2016,” he added.

The London-listed resources group’s chairman noted quarter-on-quarter results from the diamond production from fine tailings retreatment were more than satisfactory with sales increasing by 73 percent to 30 888 carats, realising an average fine diamond price of $55,90 per carat — up by an impressive 155 percent.

“The life of the slime tailing retreatment is expected to come to an end in the next two to three months, but its production will be replaced by that of the coarse tailings dam in the complex, set to start producing in the same quarter,” he said.

Commenting on Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC)’s dismal performance in the period under review, Ning said the nickel producer had weathered the worst of the storm.

“Operating costs are well under control and with the smelter coming on stream at a time when the nickel price is normalising, it’s reasonable to expect BNC’s future to be much brighter than in the recent past,” he said.

“It has been well reported that both the Philippines and China have major environmental concerns over nickel production. This could accelerate the supply deficit and place upward pressure on the nickel price — should this happen, this would open further opportunities for the group,” Ning added.

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