HARARE, April 16 (The Source) – BNC’s Trojan Nickel Mine recorded a quarterly 49 percent increase in nickel sales to 2.072 tonnes for the fourth quarter ending March, while mill head grade was 44 percent higher, buoyed by improved efficiencies, the company said on Thursday.
The group spent nearly $7 million in the quarter on capital expenditure, which saw the delivery of new dump trucks along with new production and face mining rigs and LHD (Load, Haul Dump) equipment. The equipment has since been commissioned and deployed resulting in the improved performance, the company said.
“The past quarter has been a period of significant progress across all our existing operations and new projects,” group chairman Kalaa Mpinga said in a statement.
The increase in head grade, coupled with a stable plant run resulted in a 47 percent increase in production of nickel concentrates and a 6.4 percentage point improvement in recovery to 87 percent.
However, mill throughput at the mine went down six percent to 140,045t as production was constrained by a temporary hoist breakdown in January which has since been resolved.
The average price received for nickel concentrates at $9,489/t was softer than the $10,313/t in the previous quarter.
Gold production at Freda Rebecca was flat at 14,358 ounces but gold recoveries increased by five percent from 78 percent in the third quarter.
Tonnes milled for the quarter decreased by eight percent to 297,953 tonnes from 322,216t in the previous quarter as mill throughput and running time both reduced by four percent.
Cash costs improved by four percent to $1,076 oz from $1,118 in the previous quarter.
“At Freda Rebecca we have achieved steady production, although the need to work through low-grade zones as development moved towards new high-grade and main stopes persisted,” said Mpinga.
“While gold prices declined progressively throughout the financial year, the company was able to achieve a four percent reduction in Freda Rebecca’s cash costs. The focus remains on further curtailing of costs and grade control as mining moves increasingly into the higher-grade stopes.”
He said unit-cost improvements were due to the increase in production and a reduction in mobile equipment costs as the majority of the refurbishment was completed in the financial year’s third quarter.
Commenting on the Bindura Smelter, Mpinga said a $20 mln, 5-year bond to finance the smelter re-start closed on 27 February 2015 and was fully subscribed. The funds will be used to accelerate work on the smelter, with most of the major components expected to be delivered by end of June.
The nine month commissioning period is still on track.
“Work on the smelter re-start project progressed with major components either already delivered “or due to be delivered between April through to June 2015,” he said.
“Looking ahead, production for the first quarter in the upcoming financial year is expected to be lower than the quarter under review due to a planned month-long shutdown which will commence on 7th June 2015 and is projected to be completed on 6th July 2015 and will tie in with the Trojan re-deepening and other projects. Notwithstanding, annual production, is forecast to remain broadly flat.”