21 July 2010

Zimbabwe: Largest Mine's Gold Output Tumbles

Harare — ZIMBABWE'S largest gold mine, Metallon says output for June fell significantly due to power cuts during World Cup soccer matches.

Metallon chairman and group chief executive Mr Collen Gura said in interview that Shamva Mine, its largest mine operation, was the most affected as production tumbled 70 percent.

Shamva Mine produces an average of 3 200 ounces monthly.

Government issued a directive that domestic electricity consumers be prioritised during the month-long soccer showcase hosted by South Africa between June 11 and July 11.

Zesa had to switch off some of the commercial consumers in order to meet demand for domestic consumers.

Mr Gura said its mining operations lost a minimum of 14 hours of potential production hours daily.

"We were significantly affected in June, especially at Shamva.

"We were switched off for not less that 14 hours everyday and this literally took about 70 percent of our normal production.

"But things have improved. At half the month of July, we had already achieved full production level of June," said Mr Gura.

The Metallon boss however said the company was optimistic of meeting its gold output target from its five mines. Apart from Shamva, the London Stock Exchange listed resource firm also owns, How Mine, Redwing Mine, Mazowe and Acturas mines.

"We are confident the group will achieve a target of 7 500 ounces of gold this month."

Metallon, which is owned by South African mining magnate Mr Mzi Khumalo, accounts for more than half of the country's gold output.

The group's five mines have the capacity to produce 15 000 ounces of gold every month and account for 14 percent on the jobs in the mining sector.

The company says it would soon embark on a massive expansion programme to raise its annual output to 250 000 ounces and 500 000 ounces thereafter. As a long-term plan, the company is targeting an annual gold output of one million ounces.

The programme requires about US$600 million, says Mr Gura.

Zimbabwe's gold production is continuing to rise. According to the Chamber of Mines, the country is projected to achieve between 7 000 and 8 000kg of the precious metal by the end of the year.

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