Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
DIVERSIFIED mining group, RioZim, says gold production across its operations took a dip during the first quarter 2021 as excessive rains pounded most parts of the country.
While the 2020/2021 rain season has been good for farmers, RioZim said in its trading update for the quarter ended March 2021, that the heavy rains impacted negatively on its operations as plant and equipment faced continuous breakdowns while open pits became flooded amid rampant power failures at the mines.
The mining group has gold operations at Cam & Motor and Dalny mines in Kadoma and Renco in Masvingo.
“The mine (Cam & Motor) obtained lower than expected average grades at One-Step Mine. This was worsened by low throughput as a result of persistent plant breakdowns, which were caused by the incessant heavy rains during the period,” said the group.
“Consequently, gold production fell by 12 percent in comparison to the first quarter of 2020.”
At Dalny Mine, it said the wet conditions from the persistent rains affected mining volumes at the open pits.
“Resultantly, throughput at the plant was significantly reduced and the mine recorded a 20 percent decline in gold volumes compared to the same period in 2020.”
During the period under review, Renco Mine suffered from inconsistent power supply due to rain-induced power infrastructure failures, which led to a four percent decline in the gold produced compared to the same period in the prior year.
RioZim said engagements with ZETDC (Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company) on the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Renco power lines are being accelerated. On its diamond business, the mining group said diamond production at its associate Murowa (Private) Limited was predominantly from the low-grade K2 pits, which resulted in subdued carats produced.
“This led to production being 20 percent below the comparative period. The associate is focused on its plant capacitation project, which will enable it to increase carats production through a ‘high-volume low-grade strategy’.
“Progress on the project is however, hampered by foreign currency challenges,” it said.
During the first quarter, the group completed civil works for the Biological Oxidation (BIOX) project, and installations were presently underway.
“With the reduced retention rate, the company’s efforts to fast track the completion of this project were dampened.
“The company, however, is optimistic that it will reach financial closure with a potential financier to enable the commissioning of the BIOX project within the planned timeline,” said RioZim.
The completion of the US$17 million BIOX plant will go a long way in ensuring RioZim beneficiates its precious minerals by processing pure oxide ores to make good grades and high recoveries. This will in turn generate more foreign currency when exported. — @okazunga.