By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
A resource definition exercise at Isabella Gold Mine in Bubi, Matabeleland North Province, has revealed that the mine is sitting on about 4,8 million ounces of the yellow metal, Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, has said.
The minister revealed this in an interview after touring the mine on Monday in the company of senior officials from his ministry as well as officials from Bilboes Holdings which owns the mine among them major shareholder, Mr Victor Gapare.
The resource discovery is now being used to pursue a programme that will see the Bilboes Holdings owned mine ramping up production to over three tonnes per annum before increasing to six tonnes per annum.
This will, however, be preceded by undertaking a detailed feasibility study to be completed early next year.
The development comes at a time when Government is working on ramping up national gold output from the 24 tonnes achieved last year to 35 tonnes this year and 100 tonnes by 2023.
Speaking after the tour, Minister Chitando said developments at Isabella Mine, which have so far seen the installation of a pilot mining plant will go a long way towards achieving the 100 tonnes gold output mark.
The mine will also process refractory ore which has not been processed in Zimbabwe since the closure of the Kwekwe Roasting Plant in 2000 which had capacity to process 9 000 to 10 000 tonnes of concentrate per annum.
“The installation of a pilot plant at Isabella Mine as well as the establishment of two other plants at different mining locations is a major milestone in the 2023 target of 100 tonnes per annum gold production,” said Minister Chitando.
“Since the closure of the Roasting Plant in Kwekwe there has been no gold production from refractory ores. This marks a new phase as Zimbabwe starts producing gold from refractory ores.
“Government will work on ways to enhance production from refractory ores and this includes an initiative by MMCZ (Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe) to reopen the Roasting Plant in Kwekwe,” he said.
Government, under the new dispensation ushered into office in November last year, has been engaging miners including small scale miners whom Minister Chitando said have an important role to play in light of the country’s geology which makes some deposits more amenable to small scale mining.
During the Minister’s tour, Bilboes Holdings revealed that Isabella Mine has a refractory ore body which is more complex to process compared to others but will still manage the process with their pilot plant.
Despite obvious spin offs that will follow a boost in production among them increased employment and economic activities, the Bubi Rural District Council (BRDC) which has been pegged back in terms of development is also expected to further benefit from royalties.
Council is entitled to landowners’ fees from mines operating in its locality under the Mines and Minerals Act which is charged based on the number of workers or the miner’s output.