Kuvimba shores up Shamva Gold Mine

SHAMVA Gold Mine in Mashonaland Central province has increased annual production to nearly 700 kilogrammes since its takeover in 2020 by Kuvimba Mining House that injected US$15 million into reviving the mine’s underground operations.

Kuvimba is a State-owned mining group created by the Government to acquire mothballed mines and industrial operations considered of national strategic importance, giving them a new lease of life in line with the Second Republic’s economic development thrust.

Before the acquisition, Shamva was owned by Metallon Gold that placed it under care and maintenance.

The mine that is one of Zimbabwe’s oldest gold operations was discovered in the pre-colonial era around 1865 before exploitation started in 1893 by a company that was called Goldfields of Rhodesia.

On account of its extensive history, Shamva Gold Mine has gone through several ownerships for instance, in 1968 the operation was owned by Independence Gold before it was acquired by Metallon Gold in 2002.

At the hands of Metallon that is owned by a South Africa business mogul Mr Mzi Khumalo, the gold mine, which is located about 90 kilometres north-east of Harare, Shamva experienced undercapitalisation and underdevelopment.

Against this background, in 2019 Metallon put Shamva Gold Mine under care and maintenance before the acquisition by Kuvimba that immediately placed the operation under business rescue to protect the mine’s assets from seizure by creditors as well as resolve legacy issues that arose before the takeover.

Briefing journalists before a tour of the mine on Friday, Shamva Gold Mine general manager Engineer Gift Mapakame said they are producing 45 000 tonnes of ore per month, a figure that was last achieved in 1910.

He said as Shamva was going under transformation, the mine is presently using ore processing facilities owned by one of their sister companies, Freda Rebecca Gold Mine in Bindura.

“In 1910, 45 000 tonnes were achieved and today (2023) we are doing 45 000 tonnes per month. We started by collaborating with Freda Rebecca Gold Mine and accessing their vast processing capacity to process our ores.

“In April 2020, since being put under care and maintenance, Shamva Gold Mine pulled its first tonne out of the mine and it was recapitalised well in terms of capital infrastructure required underground, consumables and working capital.

“Since 2020, we have been able to mine and process slightly over half a million tonnes (520 000) of ore from our underground operations alone.

“That 520 000 tonnes on average on an annual basis mined at a grade 1,70 grammes per tonne, has allowed us to average a steady gold production of slightly below 700kg of gold per year,” said Eng Mapakame.

In the financial year that began in April 2023, he said they are targeting to raise annual gold production to 770kg and this would essentially be enabled by an increased average grade.

“We want to be mining at 1,83g/tonne, so far we achieved above 1,8g which is close and I think the optimism in the increase in production is now coming in because of the capital activities (exploration, drilling and evaluating) that we are implementing to create more options with the ore body.”

Following the injection of US$15 million towards the mine’s resuscitation, Shamva has since 2021 been having a capital development for underground operations of US$4 million per annum.

“The resuscitation capital for Shamva Gold Mine coming out of care and maintenance and ramping it up to full production is an estimated US$15 million and then thereafter, the annualised stay in business capital which was now employed effective 2021 going forward is US$4 million per annum.

“The significant amount of the stay-in business capital expenditure goes to capital development for underground works,” said Eng Mapakame.

Given the extensive mining that has taken place at Shamva since 1865 where two million ounces (56 699,40kg) of the yellow metal have been depleted, he said the resource is still in abundance with 142 million tonnes at 1,6g/tonne giving a total resource of almost seven million ounces (198 446,64kg).

The mining concern has also done exploration at Shamva Hill where it intends to undertake open pit mining operations having discovered a resource that can be exploited from the surface at a profit.

At present, the gold operation uses a conventional mining method which is labour intensive and thus Shamva employs 1 035 people, the majority (85 percent) of whom are locals.

“We do have some interface with mechanisation and we are moving towards increasing that interface with mechanisation but for now we still have some bit of manual activity and that explains why we are sitting at 1 035 employees.

“Through empowerment we also have got 148 contractors and these are either involved in the mainstream operations or supporting services that feed into the mainstream operations and a greater proportion of them are from the local community.

“That also speaks to how we try to empower the local community by getting them engaged in our vision and mission,” he said.

Turning to corporate social responsibility, Eng Mapakame said his organisation was largely involved in health and sanitation, education, and empowerment.

On health and sanitation, when Shamva was reopened it recapitalised the mine clinic that serves the entire 4 000 population of Shamva Gold Mine.

Eng Mapakame said extensive strides have also been taken to continue capacitating the health facility with drugs, human capital as well as participation in Government-sponsored programmes aimed at promoting effective health service delivery.

“Just on drugs alone, we spend US$18 000 to US$20 000 per month to ensure the clinic itself is basically capacitated. The clinic is open to the wider community, there is a medical doctor who is there six days a week and an ambulance so we also invested in that to ensure that we promote health and sanitation within the Shamva community and the extended community.

“We have also had programmes with the district hospital, we are quite close with the chief medical officer and we participated in certain programmes to capacitate the district hospital and enable it to look after the Shamva community,” he said.

One of the mine’s success stories under the health and sanitation pillar, is the construction of a mortuary with a carrying capacity of 11 bodies at the district hospital.

The mine has also revamped Shamva Primary School looking at buildings, furniture fixtures and fittings, teaching material such as textbooks required while teachers at this public institution are accommodated by the mining company.

In an interview, Shamva Gold Mine human resources manager Mr Desire Jamu, who is also responsible for corporate social responsibility projects, said the mortuary at the district hospital is a new and modern facility built by his organisation.

“We built this mortuary after the society had made an appeal to us because the old mortuary carried two bodies and it had also been very obsolete and when we came in we built this modern mortuary,” he said.

The mine’s projects manager Mr Rodrick Chindoko, in a separate interview, said: “This is the best and biggest mortuary in the whole province, the provincial mortuary only holds nine bodies and this one holds 11 bodies. This (new mortuary) has impacted very much in the whole district because it’s the biggest in the province therefore, in the district it has changed the life of the people. With the old mortuary we would have bodies just lying on the floor and decomposing and that set up has changed with the coming on board of the new mortuary.”

Meanwhile, Kuvimba has invested over US$1 billion in various mining operations it has acquired, helping boost production and creating employment for close to 4 000 people across its operations.

The mining group has vast interests in gold, nickel, lithium, chrome and platinum and also owns entities such as Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys) Bindura Nickel Corporation, Chandawana (formerly Sandawana), Great Dyke Investments which is a new platinum project being developed in Darwendale, Mashonaland West province as well as Globe and Phoenix in Kwekwe.

Last year, Kuvimba signed a management contract with the country’s largest steel producer, Zisco, which ceased operations in 2008 at the height of hyperinflation.

The management contract entered between the two firms is a giant step towards the long-awaited revival of Zisco.

The Redcliff-based steel producer intends to start mining limestone and iron ore which are critical raw materials in steel production by the end of this year as part of preparatory groundwork to revamp Zisco.

Herald

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