AnalysisNewsOpinion

Closed mines pose threat to realisation of US$12 billion mining dream

By Features Writer – Friday 29 November 2019

HARARE (Mining Index) – THE extractive sector set a target of achieving US$12 billion mining target by 2023 is real but faces various bottlenecks which need to be addressed.

The target being hinged upon mining efficiency must see effective and efficient extraction of minerals. However, with a lot of mines operated by primary producers either on care and maintenance, closed, facing financial viability or under subjudice, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure a well-oiled mining industry in Zimbabwe.

However, some housekeeping issues need to be rectified before the country can start dreaming of attaining this vision.

Below is a list of various mines that are operationally challenged due to various reasons.

Metallon Corporation

The mining giant in April this year put three of its mines Shamva, Mazowe and Redwing under care a and maintenance program owing to mounting debt.

Redwing with a JORC-compliant resource of 2.6 million ounces was last year projected to increase annual gold production to 200 000 ounces. Shamva at 2.5 million reserves was anticipated to produce 150,000 ounces while Mazowe with 1.8 million reserves was forecasted to increase annual production to 93,000 ounces.

RioZim

Located in Kadoma, Empress Nickel Refinery (ENR) has been on care and maintenance since 2013 due to unavailability of matte from the major supplier, Bamangwato Concessions of Botswana.

ENR enjoyed strong success, but by 1982 the deposits at ENR were all but depleted, forcing the refinery to be shut down. However, recognising the value of the expertise that had been developed at ENR, RioZim approached a Swiss company, Centametall, in order to facilitate the purchase matte from Botswana, which became the basis for a toll- refining contract between BCL and RioZim. BCL was in 2016 put under provisional liquidation for non-viability.

RioZim chrome claims in Darwendale remain subjudice and the company continues to pursue finalisation of the matter by the courts. In October last year, RioZim filed a court application against Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri after she declared part of RioZim’s 260 mining claims as a cantonment area, but allegedly offered the same claims to other firms such as Falcon Resources and Rusununguko Nkululeko (Pvt) Limited.

ASA Resources

Nine companies that fall under ASA Resources Group last year sought to be placed under provisional judicial management citing viability challenges. These include Freda Rebecca mine, Hunter’s Road Nickel Mine, Trojan Nickel Mine, BSR Limited, Greenline Enterprises, ASA Services Zimbabwe, Bindura Estates and Mwana Properties.

In February this year, ASA Resources CEO Toi Munganyi confirmed at least 30 workers were scheduled for retrenchment at Freda Rebecca Mine.

Bindura Nickel Corporation

With four lucrative mines, BNC is currently operating one mine.

Trojan Mine is the only operational mine with 71 000 tonnes of nickel reserves. The mine is performing below par as evidenced by a decrease in its nickel production which was down 5.3 percent from the previous year’s output.

Shangani Mine at 65 000 tonnes is on care and maintenance. Hunter’s Road at 200 000 tonnes is at pre-development stage while the Damba Silwane with an estimated 67 000 tonnes is still an exploration venture.

In October this year, ASA sold its controlling stake of 74.13 percent in BNC to an undisclosed Zimbabwean based mining entity with interests in mining and production of ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals and precious metals. Economic analysts are positive the new shareholders will be able to restore the glitz and glamour to BNC.

Falcon Gold

The catastrophic engineering failure of the main operating mill at Golden Quarry Mine which rendered the mill operational coupled with termination of power supplies by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) adversely affected Falgold’s production and cash flows.

In its unaudited interim consolidated results for the six months ended March 31, 2019, Falgold’s total comprehensive losses amounted to $27 million against $1.7 million reported in the same period in 2018, with a decrease in gold production by 71 ounces.

With such losses and depletion in gold production, it poses a challenge to reaching the mining target which is anchored on gold production. Gold is expected to contribute US$4 billion by producing 100 tonnes by 2023.

Athens Mine

Situated in Mvuma is Athens Mine, formerly Falcon Mine owned by Lonrho Zimbabwe. Falcon Mine was one of the notable gold, copper and silver producers in Zimbabwe which employed over a thousand workers at its peak.

Despite having huge gold deposits, the mine closed in 1996 due to a mine shaft collapse and the low price of gold fetching at that time.

River Ranch Mine

The diamond mine in a kimberlite pipe is located 12.5 km north-west of Beitbridge. It was discovered by De Beers in 1974 and later developed by Australians in 1992 when production commenced. It closed in 1998 due to slump in diamond prices. From 2006 to 2012, it went into liquidation, and it had been lying idle since then. The liquidation issue is pending at the courts.

In April this year, Limpopo Mining Resources, the owners of River Ranch filed an application with the high court seeking removal from liquidation. Limpopo Mineral Resources was placed under liquidation on 18 July 2012 after the majority shareholder, on a voluntary basis approached the court appealing for its winding up after it became apparent that is was no longer able to pay its liabilities which stood at over 21 million dollars as at March 2018.

River Ranch has lost 21 years of production.

Buchwa Mine

Located 65km south of Zvishavane, Buchwa Iron Mining Company, stopped production of iron ore in the early 1990s due to viability problems.

Production output was considered to be medium size and in 1987, reserves stood at 14 Mt at 61 percent iron. Ore mined was composed of hematite.

Zisco Steel

Zisco Steel stopped operating in 2008. The steel giant has a capacity to produce one million tonnes of the commodity annually. At its peak, Zisco used to produce over 50 000 tonnes of prime iron and steel and could supply steel and iron across Africa.

Zisco Steel has so far lost 11 years of iron and steel production.

The following are under management of Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), and have lately not made meaningful contribution to Zimbabwe’s extractive sector.

Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM)

SMM operated two mines, Shabanie and Gaths Mine. The mines closed in 2008 owing to a myriad of challenges.

Once the world’s sixth largest asbestos producer with an annual output exceeding 140 000 tonnes, the SMM had access to markets in the United States, United Kingdom, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, India, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, China and Indonesia.

Following 11 years of no production, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura was last month quoted saying the de-watering exercise at Mashaba had been completed with production expected to resume soon.

Mhangura Copper Mine

Mhangura Copper Mine was closed in 2000 due to fall in copper prices. There has been various efforts to resuscitate the mine in the near future. Mhangura has lost 18 years of copper production.

Located approximately 100 kilometres south of Zvishavane town in the Mberengwa, Sandawana has been an important producer of emeralds for 40 years before suspending operations in 2011 due to loss of traditional markets. Eight years of emerald production have been lost since Sandawana’s closure.

Kamativi Tin Mines closed operations in 1994 after 58 years of operation. Closure of the mine was caused by the fall in the price of Tin in 1985. The mine produced tin and other by-products including tantalite niobium and lithium minerals. To date, Kamativi has lost 25 years of tin production.

Elvington Gold Mine suspended operations in 2003 due to the collapse of one of its main shafts. The mine was put on care and maintenance. Currently the mine is involved in dump retreatment while preparing for resuscitation of underground operations. Elvington used to produce 45kgs of gold per month before the shaft incident. 10 years of no production have been lost. ENDS//

 

 

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