SUNBIZ

Vatukoula Gold Mines Owners Invest to Keep Mine Sustainable

The owners of Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited are carrying out construc­tion of four major projects worth a total of $105 million in an effort to keep the mine afloat. VGML
24 Nov 2018 11:00
Vatukoula Gold Mines Owners Invest to Keep Mine Sustainable
Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited chief engineer Yu Huang points to where the new Vatukoula Treatment Plant would be built.

The owners of Vatukoula Gold Mines Limited are carrying out construc­tion of four major projects worth a total of $105 million in an effort to keep the mine afloat.

VGML reports that it ended the last finan­cial year with a loss of F$38.05 million and could not continue to sustain the continu­ing losses.

Reason for the losses

Asked to explain the reason for the losses, VGML management explained that after 84 years of operations the most accessible ar­eas of economically mineable gold bearing ore had already been mined out.

(As per above statement, it was with the ex­ception of the period January, 2007 – April, 2008 when the mine was closed after the previous owners withdrew after continuing financial losses)

Mr Yi Huang, VGML’s chief engineer and Accredited Mine agent, explained further that VGML was now faced with having to dig deeper underground to get the much needed ore for gold extraction. He said it was proving costly from both the require­ments for ventilation as well as keeping the workings pumped dry.

Mr Huang explained further that in order for VGML to become sustainable, the com­pany had to look at not only reducing cost but also putting in place capital projects.

 

On a bigger picture the livelihood of over 1600 local employees and their families who depended on work at the mines for their liv­ing.

As at April 30 this year, Vatukoula Gold Mines had 1564 local employees including local permanent contractors, 28 expatriates and 100 short term contractors working on the capital infrastructure projects under con­struction by Chinese companies.

Capital projects

Meanwhile the capital projects that were presently being done or have been completed were:

  • Investment of $40 million for the construc­tion of a new Vatukoula Treatment Plant to increase the recovery of gold.

The feasibility study and design work began in August 2017 and was completed in March this year after which construction works be­gan. The project is expected to be completed, which includes installation and commission­ing by October 2019.

  • The new power plant with a total cost of $30 million.

Construction of the new power plant began in July 2017 and was completed in January 2018.

  • The Dolphin Ventilation Shaft which is still under construction and which would provide increased ventilation for the miners and also it would also be used for the hoisting of ore to the surface.

The shaft will be 640 metres deep and at pre­sent they have reached 130 metres and cost $10 million. The company is looking at No­vember 2019 to have this project completed.

  • The construction of a new tailings dam at a cost of $10 million.
  • An added $3.5 million to lift the current tailings dam 9 metres with a feasibility study aimed at lifting a further 10 metres in the fu­ture.
  • The construction of a new Carbon in Pulp plant which has just started at a cost of $12 million. This plant would be used to extract gold from tailings from the mines and is still under construction.
  • More efforts into exploration through joint venture with a Canadian company.
  • Utilise all resources (tailing treatment, heap leach and other planned programs).
  • The hiring of 200 additional miners from rural areas under a programme working closely with Provincial Administration.

Dr Yi added that they had successfully reduced operating costs, particularly after the commissioning of the new power plant and plugged many holes where expendi­ture was unnecessarily slipping through.

However, the support of our parent Board is essential and they are encouraged by our commitment and the support we have received from the Government of Fiji.

“We are all working to ensure the conti­nuity of the Mine and the investments in these projects are testament to our com­mitment.”

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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