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Newmont to increase Ahafo Mine gold production

Newmont Gold Ghana Limited (NGGL) plans to expand mining and processing of its Ahafo Mine project in the Brong Ahafo Region from the current annual production volume of between 300-330,000 ounces to about 400-500,000 ounces.

The expansion has the potential to increase mill capacity from 7.5 million tonnes per annum to 12 million tonnes per annum, and will increase gold production at a lower cost; extending the lifespan of the Ahafo Mine to 2028.

The new development will be done within the mine’s concession without any additional acquisition of lands. Construction works are expected to begin in August 2015 and will last for 24 months, while expansion works on the mining pits are also expected to be carried out from 2016 to 2028.

The project includes a combined plant with two SAG mills, two bail mills, 20 CIL tanks, four CCDs, office buildings, a camp and clinic.

Mr. Tommie Van Der Walt, Project Study Director-Newmont, said the expansion is being considered at a time when the industry is plagued with numerous challenges — including lower and unstable gold prices; high cost of inputs, erratic power supply, and declining ore grades among others — leading to “painful but necessary consequences such as job cuts in order to survive in business”.

Speaking at a public hearing organised by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) at Kenyasi on the proposed Ahafo mining and processing expansion, Mr. Walt however expressed optimism that the Ahafo Mine has significant growth potential that will continue to deliver value to all stakeholders in spite of the current pressing challenges.

“The expansion project will help us deliver more shared value through our royalties and tax contribution to the country, but more importantly our direct voluntary support of one dollar per ounce and 1% of our net profit going to the Newmont Ahafo Development Foundation (NADeF),” he noted.

Mr. Walt added: “The project lowers economic cut-off grade of the resource, converting more mineralised material into ore and unlocking potential growth, which in the longer-term, sustains Ahafo Mine to provide more benefits and opportunities for all in terms of employment for skilled and unskilled labour”.

He announced that the company plans to install internal power plants to augment electricity supply from the national grid amidst the raging power crisis.

Meanwhile, most residents in the Ahafo catchment area have expressed their anxiety about the proposed expansion project.

They are of the view that Newmont has not done enough to address the environmental ramifications/effects since it commenced operations about nine years ago, and therefore the expansion will worsen their plight.

They passionately appealed for the EPA and other mining regulatory institutions to compel Newmont to thoroughly address all environmental flaws, such as water pollution and destruction of biodiversity, before it goes ahead with the expansion works.

Source: B&FT

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