Freda Rebecca's gold output declined by 10 percent to 58,704 ounces in the year to March weighed down by lower head grade and mechanical faults on the milling plant. Mill head grade of 2,10g per tonne was 20 percent down from the previous year's head grade of 2,64 g per tonne, but the decline was partly compensated by improvement in mill recovery to 82,35 percent from 81,0 percent.
The mechanical problems experienced at the mill were associated with mill alignment and lubrication, work to resolve them was carried out during the year's second half.
Mwana's Zimbabwe-based gold mining subsidiary milled a record 1,06 metric tonnes in the year to 31 March 2014, and has now reached its name plate mill capacity.
However, Mwana Africa's gold mining unit said projects were under way to allow production to increase further from 13 million tonnes of accumulated gold-bearing tailings in three main storage facilities in the Bindura based mine's lease area.
During 2013, the economic potential of recovering gold from Freda Rebecca's tailings dumps was evaluated and the construction of a pilot recovery plant initiated.
The pilot plant was commissioned and testing began in the new financial year with the aim of proving that gold could be recovered economically from the tailings with little reprocessing, low mining and handling costs.
An auguring programme over the dumps is expected to result in a joint ore resources committee compliant mineral resource that has the potential to add significantly to the gold mining subsidiary's production.
Meanwhile, Mwana's revenue went up by 30,5 percent to $142,5 million from $109,2 million last year while earnings before interest tax and depreciation grew by 40,4 percent to $25 million against $17,8 million in 2013.
Group net profit for the year of $50,6 million after a $28 million reversal of impairment on BNC, which plunged to a loss of $43,5 million in 2013 after a $43,7 million impairment charge on the nickel producing firm.
Attributable group net profit for the year of $36,6 million (2013: net loss of $28,6m) was achieved, equating to a basic earnings per share for the year of 2,89 cents from prior year loss per share of 2,62 cents.
Nickel producing unit BNC, which had been under care and maintenance since 2008, resumed production profitably with nickel sales of 7,129 tonnes for the year. BNC first concentrate shipped in April and a new mining plan was adopted in July emphasising exploitation of massives with high nickel content, which improved cash flow and reduced capital required.