After three weeks of inaction, Gold Fields Ghana Limited has re-opened its Tarkwa gold mine in the Western region.
The mine, where gold is extracted from the ore, was shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 16.
It ordered that the company’s water discharges be channeled through a treatment plant.
However, bureaucracy at the EPA made it impossible for BUSINESS GUIDE to ascertain whether the regulator had indeed given Gold Fields the green light to re-open the mines.
Gold Fields, the world’s fourth largest bullion producer, said in a statement on Friday that it had commissioned the construction of two water treatment plants to support its operations.
It said it lost around 15,000 ounces or 10 per cent of the mine’s quarterly production as a result of the shutdown known as ‘heap leach facilities.’
Gold Fields currently produces around 850,000 ounces globally each quarter.
“Although Gold Fields believes that Tarkwa was complying with the prescribed conductivity levels in its water discharges, it has nonetheless commissioned the construction of two water treatment plants at the heap leach facilities,” the company said.
Gold Fields, the EPA and the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, agreed that Tarkwa would continue diluting and discharging excess water in a controlled manner until the construction of two water treatment plants.
The company, which is expected to complete the construction of the water treatment plants by the end of the year, was required to submit monthly progress reports to the EPA.
It is one of the largest unhedged producers of gold with production of 3.5 million gold equivalent ounces from eight operating mines in Australia, Ghana, Peru and South Africa.
The company was incorporated in Ghana in 1993 as the legal entity holding the Tarkwa concession mining rights.
Gold Fields Ghana Holdings Limited now holds 90 per cent of the issued shares of GFGL after acquiring the indirect 18.9 per cent of the issued shares belonging to IAMGold and its affiliates.
The government of Ghana holds a 10 percent free carried interest, as required under the mining law of Ghana.
The Tarkwa Gold Mine operates under seven mining leases covering a total area of approximately 20,825 hectares.
Mining is currently taking place at six pits, Pepe, Atuabo, Mantraim, Teberebie, Akontansi and Kottraverchy and the mine utilizes a conventional CIL plant as well as a heap leach facility.
In the 12 months ending December 2011, Tarkwa produced 717 koz of gold from the milling and heap leach operations at a cost of US$552/oz.
By William Yaw Owusu