Gold production at Freda-Rebecca down

Gold production at Freda-Rebecca Mine, the Ashanti Goldfields operation in Zimbabwe, dropped by almost half from 98 255 ounces in 2002 to 51 091 ounces last year resulting in operating costs increasing from US$214 an ounce to US$268 an ounce.

The company says the decline in production was due to a low availability of drill rigs and drilled reserves.

Underground ore production was down from 1.1 million tonnes to 630 000 tonnes with the grammes per tonne declining from 2.99 to 2.39.

It says production was impacted by poor equipment availability and difficulties in obtaining foreign currency to import spares and essential equipment.

A total of 1 197 000 tonnes was processed last year, an increase from 1 155 000 tonnes the previous year but recovery was down from 2.92 g/t to 1.75 g/t.

The mine was re-engineered in September. It is expected that the underground operation will produce 80 000 tonnes a month producing about 60 000 ounces a year.

The mine should achieve this target rate by the end of the second quarter this year.

Together with the rehabilitation, the mine is undertaking exploratory drilling at Promoter, Phoenix Prince and PEN-Kimberly.

Overall production by Ashanti declined from 1 621 919 ounces in 2002 to 1 603 821 ounces last year.

Declines in production were at Obuasi, from 537 219 ounces to 513 163 ounces, Bibiani from 242 432 ounces to 212 716 ounces, and Siguiri from 269 292 ounces to 252 795 ounces.

Production at Iduapriem/Teberebie and Geita increased from 185 199 ounces to 243 533 ounces at Iduapriem and from 289 522 ounces to 330 523 ounces at Geita.

Production costs rose from US$262 an ounce to US$282 an ounce.

Total turnover increased marginally from US$552.2 million to $564.9 million but net profit was down from US$56.2 million to US$49.2 million.

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