Home » Industry » Metallon Mulls Adopting Solution Mining

Zimbabwe’s largest gold mining group, Metallon Gold, is considering adopting the solution mining method at its Mazowe operation to increase production as prices fluctuate, a company official said.

Solution mining involves processing gold ore underground and pumping the concentrated solution to the surface where the minerals are then recovered.

In an interview with The Herald Business yesterday, Metallon head of corporate affairs Mr Zenzo Nsimbi said “I can confirm that we want to try this method of mining considering that Mazowe mine has 70 percent free gold and the mine also has a small belt therefore after blasting we normally end up losing some of the gold.

This gold of late has been recovered by gravity concentration and over 15 mineralised structures have been exploited to date. However, we are yet to engage the responsible authorities for regulatory approvals and we hope to get the green light to start on this mining method.”

He said solution mining is used to extract gold or other dissolved chemicals from underground formations. This method is also used to win soluble salts by use of percolating liquor introduced through shafts, drives or bores.

“This mining model is expected to have a positive impact on our production considering that processing of the gold would be done underground and gold will be processed straight from the belt,” said Mr Nsimbi.

“Solution mining involves the removal of soluble minerals by dissolving and leaching them out.”

Mazowe Mine is producing about 600 ounces of gold per month against a production target of 1 000 ounces.

Metallon Gold is owned by South African mining magnate Mr Mzi Khumalo and has five gold operations in Zimbabwe How, Shamva, Acturas, Mazowe and Redwing mines.

According to metallurgists, in solution mining the ore body needs to be permeable to the liquids used so that they do not contaminate groundwater.

“The solution mining of gold has the aantage of being far cheaper since human access to the mineral is not necessary. This saves enormously on labour costs. In this model there is consequently little surface disturbance and no tailings or waste rock generated,” said one metallurgist.

The company last year announced its intention to switch to open cast mining at some of its units, but that has been put on hold due to viability issues.

Source : The Herald