Golden Sibanda Harare Bureau
Bindura Nickel Corporation’s concentrate production for the first quarter to June dipped 14 percent after mining was temporarily suspended due to maintenance work on the underground mobile equipment.
Mwana Africa Plc in its first quarter trading update said the drop in concentrate production was also due to mining in lower grade areas.
Nickel in concentrate production is however projected to increase in the second quarter on better efficiency following modification to the equipment.
The Alternative Investment Market listed firm also owns Freda, Zimbabwe’s biggest gold miner Rebecca, which registered a 1 percent growth in output weighed down by modifications to improve mill efficiency.
After a record output was achieved in the 2014 last quarter, nickel concentrate in production was lower in the first quarter, but higher than the same period last year.
“Nickel in concentrate production was 14 percent lower at 1,902 tonne (Q4 2014, 2,207 tonne) as underground mobile equipment was taken out of commission for refurbishment and due to mining of lower grade areas,” Mwana said.
The drop in concentrate output therefore means BNC missed out on a potential revenue windfall after nickel prices rose 26 percent to $17,745 per tonne.
Head grade was 6 percent lower at 1,5 percent against quarter four growth of 1,6 percent. Recovery was down 4,7 percent to 84,1 percent against 88,8 percent in last quarter of 2014 while sales rose 17 percent at 1,87t.
Ore production was only marginally up by 1 percent 13,503 ounces, reflecting an 8 percent increase in head grade at 2,07 grammes per tonne.
“This quarter was mixed as various modifications intended to improve efficiency at Freda Rebecca and Trojan Nickel has been undertaken and the result of these changes will not be reflected until our quarter two update,” said Mwana Africa Plc chief executive officer Kalaa Mpinga.
Freda’s cash costs grew by 21 percent to $13,750/t compared to 2014 fourth quarter of costs of $11,333/t while all-in-sustaining costs were up 29 percent to $15,750/t, increasing from $12,220/t in the last quarter of 2014, due to lower production and refurbishment of mining equipment.
Gold production increased by 1 percent to 13,503oz from 13,380oz in the last quarter of 2014, reflecting an 8 percent rise in head grade to 2,07g/t compared to 1,91g/t in the last quarter of the previous financial year.
This was due to improvements in the main production block feed grade. Recovery was 6,2 percent lower at 76,8 percent against 83 percent in last quarter of 2014 after brief power supply failures at two absorption tanks.
Cash costs up 2 percent to $1,078/oz from $1,053/oz in 2014 quarter four while 4 percent drop was registered in all-in-sustaining costs to $1,283/oz compared to $1,324/oz recorded during the period under review.
Slight improvement in gold price was received, with the average price coming in at $1,310/oz against $1,302/oz in the 2014 last quarter.
There was a 92 percent increase in production to 23,750 carats at Mwana’s diamond project in Klipspringer, South Africa, with a price of $20 per carat average price received against $21 in the last quarter of 2014. Mwana also said steady-state production achieved at quarter-end.