Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (NGGL) is within schedule to start commercial production from its expanded Ahafo mines by the end of 2018.
The company has been operating surface mining since its entrance into the Ghanaian mining industry in 2002, but has now secured environmental permit to undertake underground mining in one of its pits; the Subika pit.
The expansion is estimated to boost the capacity of the mine by more than 50%. The underground resource has been studied for over 11 years and is estimated to have about 1.8 million ounces of gold which could be mined over an 11-year period.
The underground exploitation coupled with the expansion of the Ahafo mill is expected to shoot the volume of gold produced from the current 315000-to-345000 ounces to 550000-600000 ounces annually. The ore grade of 4.7 grams expected from the underground mine is said to be three times higher than Newmont’s surface mines.
During a tour of the mine by members of the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA), with sponsorship from the Ghana Chamber of Mines, the Newmont Ahafo Mines manager, Yaw Okyere Ntramarh said the expansion became necessary as a result of the surface mining becoming less economical.
“What we do in mining is, you start from the top, then you create a pit and then with time it ceases to be economic to mine from surface so then you have to go and do the mining from underground. So the underground deposit is just an extension of the Subika pit itself; the ore body”, he explained to Starr Business’ Tawakalitu Braimah who took part in the mine tour.
Mr. Ntramarh clarified that no new license was required for the construction of the underground mine since it’s just an extension of the current operations. “We don’t need a license for that because we’re changing mining methods, we had to apply for a new permit which we now have”, he elucidated.
On the mill expansion project, the Newmont Ahafo Mines manager indicated that it would make the new line of mining more economical. “The construction of the new mill is based on the fact that if we are able to put in more materials through those plants, it becomes economical to mine. This is not an expansion but it’s called retreating or re-mining the old stockpiles and then putting it through the plants. It’s just increasing throughout and getting gold out of it”, he told Starr Business.
Together the two projects are expected to create an average of 500 temporary jobs with a member of the 10 host communities filling a chunk of the available slots. According to Yaw Okyere Ntramarh, experts will be scouted to work underground.
“There’ll be about 200 to 400 jobs during the construction period and then it declines. For the underground, we are looking for expertise in underground mining; that’ll be another 200 jobs”, he stated.
On his part, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Suleman Koney commended Newmont on its expansion drive saying, “Anytime mining companies do exploration and they are able to expand their operations to increase production, everybody should be excited because what it invariably means is that you are providing the space for companies to employ more people and to pay more taxes and so on and so forth”.
Newmont Ghana Gold Limited entered Ghana’s gold industry in 2002 and bean commercial production four years later. It opened its Akyem mines in 2013. As at October 2016, 5 million ounces of gold was recorded.
Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM/Tawakalitu Braimah