Walter Nyamukondiwa : Chinhoyi Bureau
Commissioning of mining equipment in Gache Gache, where gold deposits were recently discovered, has now been completed with operations expected to start soon. This depends on Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company meeting the conditions prescribed by the Environmental Management Agency to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment report.The report will detail the nature of operations and identify potential impact on the environment. It will propose mitigation measures for negative impact.
EMA spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata, said alluvial gold mining was a prescribed activity that required project developers to prepare an EIA report.
“We have just issued them with a reminder of expectations for that particular activity they want to carry out. It is standard procedure,” he said.
The environmental law states that no operations should be done less than 200 metres from the highest flood plain and the plant should not be within 250 metres of the river or water body.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said commissioning of mining equipment at Gache Cache was now complete.
“They have completed commissioning of the equipment and we expect operations to start soon,” he said.
Sources said activity at the mine had stopped ostensibly to pave way for the finalisation of the paper work granting the greenlight for operations.
The operations are expected to provide locals with employment.
Kariba District Administrator Mr Amigo Mhlanga spoke of the number of people to be engaged to provide labour.
“We are expecting that people from all the wards in the districts will get employed to provide labour, which does not need technical competence,” he said.
Exploration work is currently ongoing and commissioning of mining equipment including 2 x 80 tonnes per hour Nelson Concentrators has been completed.
Preliminary geological surveys showed deposits of gold with yields of between 0,5 grammes to five grammes per tonne, which is considered viable for alluvial gold mining.
Government has indicated that it will solely be the responsibility of the State to conduct mining activities in the area in line with a recent directive that all riverbed mining is to be done by the State.
This is in order to protect the environment.
Gold discovery in Kariba comes at a time when gold production has increased to around 20 tonnes, with projection showing that volumes will increase to around 25 tonnes in 2016.
The gold and platinum deposits were discovered following excavation activities associated with the upgrading of the Kariba South Power Station along the shores of Lake Kariba.
The deposits were discovered around the confluence of Gache Gache as it flows into Lake Kariba during sand abstraction for construction work at the Kariba South Power expansion project site.
Sand from water bodies is usually associated with alluvial gold deposits.
Alluvial gold can be in the form of dust, thin flakes or nuggets, which are a result of a change in velocity or direction of water flow.
The gold can be found at river confluence, where water slows down as it flows into a pool, holes and natural traps in a stream.
It is transported at the base of currents and will be deposited by changes in currents.
Chinese firm Sino Hydro began construction work on the 300 megawatt capacity expansion of Kariba South Power Station, which is scheduled for completion in 2018.
Work is currently over 41 percent complete.