MMCZ begins construction of Kwekwe plant

TINASHE MAKICHI

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has begun the construction of a new gold refractory plant located in Kwekwe, as part of efforts to revive the asset which has been idle for more than 20 years, Business Times can report.

The development comes after MMCZ and its partner Chandiwana Mining Corporation, completed the construction of a pilot plant at the Kwekwe gold roasting plant. The pilot plant was part of the investment plan to ascertain the viability of the roasting plant, which is expected to process gold from mines around the Midlands Province area.

MMCZ general manager, Tongai Muzenda, said the parastatal was expanding the gold processing facility at Kwekwe Roasting Plant.

“We completed the construction of a pilot plant and we have now begun the construction of the main plant. There were delays in terms of Covid-19 but at the moment part of the equipment is being shipped,” Muzenda told Business Times.

The roasting plant, which MMCZ and Chandiwana are reviving, ceased operations in 2000.

Government transferred ownership of the assets to MMCZ on condition that the corporation would pay all the liabilities that the roasting plant had. MMCZ paid all the company’s liabilities and assumed ownership of the assets on behalf of the Government.

Current revival efforts come after there have been viability concerns raised around the resuscitation of the plant and a lot of investors have been unwilling to commit their funds on the project.

However, following the takeover of the plant by the government, investors started showing commitment on injecting fresh capital on the project.

The Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in 2015 assumed responsibility of resuscitating Kwekwe refractory gold roasting plant with a view to realise US$140m from extracting gold trapped in dumps at the plant.

The roasting plant on its own is a rich mine and there is hope that if the dumps are processed about US$140m will be realised.

The roasting plant was established in 1937 by the then government of Rhodesia to assist small and medium scale miners around Kwekwe in the processing of dumps or refractory gold ore.

These dumps have an estimated 350 000 metric tonnes of ore and according to Peacocke and Simpsons Mineral Processors, they contain 97 220 ounces of gold worth US$140m at current prices.

Kwekwe roasting plant resuscitation is expected to increase volumes to the national gold output.

While operational, the roasting plant was processing at least 10 percent of the national gold output and the gold was mainly coming from small and medium miners.

About 26 mines used to get services from the plant and after it shut down all the mines closed. The Kwekwe roasting plant has capacity to process about 9 000 to 10 000 tonnes of concentrate per annum.

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