Gold processing operations at Pan African resources firm, Mwana Africa’s Freda Rebecca gold mine in Zimbabwe have been stopped temporarily owing to a ruptured plant tank which is only expected to be fixed on Wednesday.
The company’s chief executive officer, Kalaa Mpinga has said that the stoppage, which was caused by the incident that occurred on Thursday, is likely to have an impact on the company’s short-term gold output.
The ruptured gold processing plant tank collapsed on top of another and caused injuries to about five workers who have had to be hospitalised although they are said to be in a stable condition.
“Our absolute priority is the health and safety of our employees and local community members. We will put in place the appropriate measures to contain any impact on the affected area as soon as possible,” Mpinga said.
The Freda Rebecca gold mine is currently operating at an annualised production rate of 72,000 ounces per year. It produced 18 350 ounces of gold in the third quarter to the end of September last year. However, the mine’s output in the fourth quarter to the end of December skidded by 10 percent to 16 506 ounces.
The Mine Inspectorate and the Environmental Management Authority has given the company the go-ahead to fix the raptured tank, with repairs having started by Friday.
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, witch gold earnings also firming up by 18.9 percent on the back of a rise in gold prices on international markets.
An economic analyst, Johannes Kwangwari, said mining was a crucial sector for Zimbabwe’s economy, adding that the country’s gold and platinum mining were lucrative for existing and prospective companies.
“Zimbabwe has low production and operational costs,” he said. Despite 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 and these include Caledonia Mining Corporation as well as New Dawn and RioZim’s Renco gold mine.
The High Court last week ordered Tourism Minister, Walter Mzembi and other Zanu PF officials off Renco mine, which they are said to have invaded. The Renco gold mine has been in a pickle over disgruntled workers demands for a pay rise and payment of last year’s bonuses.