Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
A LOCAL privately-owned gold mining and exploration concern, Bilboes Holdings is seeking to expand its operations as it moves to ramp up its mineral production.
Bilboes Holdings chief executive officer Mr Victor Gapare said the company had carried out exploration activities at three of its mines in Bubi District, Matabeleland North Province as part of its efforts to establish their resource base.
“Bilboes has spent quite a bit of money carrying out exploration drilling at its Isabella, Bubi and McCays mines. The aim has been to establish a relatively large enough resource to support a mid-size gold mining operation by international standards,” said Mr Gapare.
The gold mining company intends to expand its operations by the extraction of refractory sulphide gold bearing ores and installation of associated infrastructure. The infrastructural development would also see a new 30-kilometre haul road being constructed between Bubi mine operations and the proposed location of the new processing plant to be located at Isabella, McCays complex.
“Currently Bilboes is in the final phase of a bankable feasibility study on the project and the target is to complete the feasibility study by March 2019 and subject to securing the capital required, we should be in production from the new project towards the end of 2020,” said Mr Gapare.
He, however, could not be drawn to divulge how much the company would invest into the expansion project but hinted that it was part of its efforts to contribute towards increasing gold production in the country.
“We believe Zimbabwe has great potential to increase gold production by investing more in exploration and we decided to do it. The Government has targeted a 100 tonne per year gold production industry over the next few years and we are keen to make sure that happens.
We also believe by investing in the project, we can create employment particularly in the areas where the mines are located as it is our policy to employ from within the communities,” said Mr Gapare.
The company is currently carrying out a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment study on the project.
“Zimbabwe is also facing a critical foreign currency shortage and the only way to resolve that is by producing and exporting more goods and services.
We believe we can make a contribution by investing in our mines and producing more gold. All of us as Zimbabweans have to work to create more export businesses.
There is an outcry for foreign currency at the moment and everyone has been blaming the RBZ for the shortages but the RBZ doesn’t create forex; its industry that does that and everyone should focus on exporting to ensure the country meets its forex requirements,” said Mr Gapare.
He also said there is a need for Government to create a conducive and attractive environment for investors. “We urge Government to ensure that the investment environment is conducive for both local and foreign investors. We need the risk associated with Zimbabwe reduced so that it’s easier to attract capital for the projects,” said Mr Gapare.