Production tumbles at Boseto Mine

Bosetu mine
Bosetu mine

Production at troubled Boseto Copper Mine fell by 13 percent in the last three months of 2014, as the mine continues to struggle ahead of its closure in June this year.

A quarterly review note from the company says mining costs per tonne grew 18.3 percent in the period.

“Productivity was impacted by delays and costs associated with a fire that occurred on waste excavator as well as unscheduled repairs to other digging units. We produced only 5,569 tonnes of copper in concentrate while contained silver also recorded a 26 percent decrease,” reads the statement.

Decreased metal production was also attributed to the progressive decommissioning of the Zeta open pit, which was the operation’s main source of higher-grade sulphide ore as well as increased low recovery transitional ore.

A 3.7 percent reduction in ore milled, processing costs per tonne milled fell for the third successive quarter (6.6 percent) with a solid 16.5 percent reduction achieved in the second quarter.

According to the statement, all pits were redesigned for the changes in commodity prices and to allow the new plan of implementing the operation into care and maintenance by June this year.

“The focus going forward is to safely and effectively execute the new mine plan aimed at putting the operation into care and maintenance by June this year to ensure that production and revenues from the operation are maximised within this time period,” the statement says.

The company says the process plant continued to perform well although its stability continued to be compromised by inconsistent supply of ore during the quarter.

Last year, Discovery Metals said that they would retrench about 380 workers, which represents 90 percent of Bosetu workforce this year before suspending mining and processing operations in July due to high mining costs set against softening copper prices.

The retrenchment, which will be carried out between April and June this year, will leave the company with only 42 employees who will mostly be maintenance and security personnel.

Riddled by numerous challenges since commissioning in 2013, Boseto has been experiencing financial strains characterised by high debt, coupled with the collapse of few recapitalisation deals. Low ore grades recovered at Boseto has also exacerbated the company’s difficulties.

Discovery CEO Bob Fulker recently said the future of Boseto lies in the mine going underground, despite a recent review of a feasibility study which cut down the project’s ore recovery while costs are envisaged to go up.

The open pit Boseto Mine is to go underground soon at Zeta pit, as Discovery Metals Limited (DML) looked to boost ore production and grade at the mine.

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