Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Gorden Moyo has challenged the government to use some of the proceeds fron the Chiadzwa diamond fields to recapitalise 100-year-old Jena gold mine, currently facing operational problems as a result of obsolete plant and machinery coupled power cuts.
“Over 100 people have lost jobs because of issues of capital investment and the mine is still using machinery made in 1987 to extract gold ore from underground. Surely government needs resources to recaptalise this mine and get it working profitably again and these resources are there in Chiadzwa,” said Moyo during an official visit to Jena Mines.
Jena Mine manager Lovemore Nehanda said the problems have since forced the ZMDC- owned mine to shut down one of its shafts and retrench over 100 mine workers.
“Termite Shaft has been closed for the past two years because it was flooded, we have failed to remove the water from the shaft mainly because of the major breakdowns we had with pumping machinery and the long power cuts. As a result a 100 people have since lost their jobs,” said Nehanda.
Jena Mine has since approached Zesa to try and find ways of escaping the massive load shedding which has trebled operational costs. During the ministers’ visit there was no activity at the mine because of load shedding.
Mine engineer Belington Munemo said each time there was a power cut some processes would be repeated while the cost of running generators made business unviable.
“Every time we are hit by load shedding, which is almost every day, we have to repeat the process of crushing ore in the ball mill. We have to reload the ore and do the process over again,” said Munemo.
The mine needs $100 million to help Zesa construct a 70km power line directly from Munyati power station which will then ensure uninterrupted power supplies thereby improving production and profitability.
“We need $100 million, an equivalent of 30kg of gold, to fund for the construction of a power line from Munyati power station so that we are assured of uninterrupted power supplies which will be way cheaper as compared to the cost of running and maintaining generators,” Munemo said.
Moyo said management should get their act together and resolve problems at the mine after it emerged that Jena only remits 10% of its revenue to ZMDC while keeping the rest.
“You have to solve the problems at this mine because you are allowed to keep money, so use it to recapitalise this project and making sure that the 100 jobs lost are recovered. Government is worried when people lose jobs and we are concerned about this,” Moyo said.
The mine has an installed capacity of extracting 700 tonnes, but due to the problems it is currently extracting 400 tonnes of gold ore per day. Only 4 grammes of gold can be harvested per every tonne of ore processed.