Business News of Sunday, 18 November 2012

Source: thebftonline

Bibiani mine seeks survival

Noble Mineral Resources, which owns the Bibiani mine, has secured an A$84.7million investment from China’s Zhongrun, which will see the Chinese mining and investment group owning 41.5% of the Australian company with an option to increase its stake to 51.6% .

Noble’s Managing Director, Wayne Norris, said that the A$84.7million investment will be executed over two tranches, with some 101.8-million shares issued at 16 cents per share under the first tranche of the offer. The second tranche will consist of 380 million shares issued at 18 cents per share.

Zhongrun will also be issued with options over an additional 240.9 million shares in Noble, exercisable at 23 cents per share.

Norris said the funds raised by the share placement will enable Noble to accelerate and complete commissioning its flagship Bibiani project in Ghana, as well as meet all its existing liabilities and allow the company to potentially pursue other organic and inorganic growth options.

The Bibiani mine, formerly owned by AngloGold Ashanti, could be become a major gold producer if the deal goes through.

“Following the investment, Noble will have a fully-funded, ungeared and unhedged gold company with a clear pathway to production of some 150,000 oz/y from Bibiani, and a strong platform to pursue future growth opportunities with the benefit of a supportive strategic shareholder and partner.”

Noble announced in July that it was reviewing its options to raise additional capital to fund its operations, and Norris said last week that the company has received a number of approaches from third parties around potential corporate and strategic transactions.

However, in a conference call he said the Zhongrun offer had been considered as the best option for Noble.
“The announced strategic partnership with Zhongrun represents the culmination of this process and follows extensive discussions with a broad range of parties who expressed interest in investing in Noble.

“The strong level of interest received reflects the underlying quality of the Bibiani project, as well as the significant progress made by Noble management in the short time period since assuming operational control of Bibiani,” Norris said.

Bibiani, initially acquired by the former Ashanti Goldfields from Canadian and Libyan investors in the 1980s, was sold to Central Africa after the creation of AngloGold Ashanti in 2005 -- and since then Bibiani has gone through long periods of ownership-change due to operational and funding difficulties.

The Chinese deal has been secured at a time Chinese miners are being accused of scrounging illegally with sophisticated equipment on concessions owned by the big mining companies; such as AngloGold Ashanti and Golden Star Resources as well as individual Ghanaians.

Noble Mineral gold reserves grow

Noble Mineral Resources has seen its gold reserves grow at its Bibiani Gold Project in Ghana from a new study undertaken by Coffey Mining.

The new ore reserves measure 912,000 ounces of gold. Noble's global gold reserves now stand at 16.0Mt at 1.9g/t gold (972,000 ounces).

Total Resources at Bibiani are 51.4Mt at 1.7g/t gold for 2.8 million ounces.

The study, which was completed this week, focused on four pit areas within the Project and included a comprehensive review of Noble's resources and updated geological models, pit designs and mine schedules.

The upgrade in reserves follows a previously announced 24% increase in total gold resources at Bibiani, after earlier resource modelling work completed by Coffey Mining.

Noble's main focus is on reaching target production levels of 150,000 ounces per annum.

Noble Mineral Resources Limited listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on 26th June 2008 with a focus on exploring for large-scale gold deposits in the world-class Ashanti Gold Belt in Ghana’.

In November 2009, the Company entered into an agreement for the acquisition of the Bibiani Gold Mine, a project located in the Sefwi-Bibiani Gold Belt in Ghana and host to over 30 million ounces of gold. On July 20th, 2010, the final Share Transfer Form was executed to consummate the purchase.

Noble's other primary gold concessions are Exploration Licences at Cape Three Points, Brotet and Tumentu, which cover some 141.3km² and all are located within the world-class Ashanti Gold Belt in the south-western part of the country.

Noble's on-going focus will be to expand the drilling programme at Bibiani to target new shallow resources near the Bibiani mine and adjacent tenements while still prospecting the Cape Three Points, Brotet and Tumentu concessions within the Southern extension of the Ashanti Gold Belt.

Initial exploration at Cape Three Points will be targetted toward the Satin Mine Project and the Morrison Project, both of which lie in an area of historic underground gold exploration.

Noble believes that there is significant potential for the delineation of additional high-grade gold mineralisation relating to the down-plunge and strike extension to these zones. When added to the potential now available at Bibiani, it will place Noble in a strong position to achieve its goal of building Australia's next major gold mining house.

The Company recognises the Bibiani, Cape Three Points, Brotet and Tumentu concessions are relatively under-explored, highly prospective projects and aims to rapidly redefine compliant resources for development.

Mineral resources greatest challenge

The greatest challenge facing Ghana’s mining industry is sustainable exploitation of the country’s mineral resources within the framework of environmental integrity and social concerns, Fred Ohene-Kena, Board Chairman of the Minerals Commission, has said.

“It is very important to address the integration of all aspects of economic, social and environmental benefits of mining if it is to make a profound contribution to the country’s sustainable development,” he said.

Mr. Ohene-Kena said this at a two-day sensitisation workshop on the new minerals and mining regulations passed by Parliament in June this year for stakeholders in the mining industry.

The workshop was organised by Minerals Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources at Akyem Oda in the Birim Central municipality of the Eastern Region.

“We believe that with the right legal and regulatory framework, supported by their effective enforcement, the mining sector will take centre-stage in the development of skills, spawn other industries, and generate revenues to catalyse development,” said Mr. Ohene-Kana.

He indicated that mining accounts for six percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and therefore it was important that the Commission supported and contributed to the processes that would enable Ghanaians make the most use of mineral resources while ensuring that mining activities do not engender poverty and social conflicts.
He explained that a series of workshops will discuss licencing, support services, explosives, health and safety and compensation, as well as resettlement. The next workshop has been scheduled for Tarkwa in the Western Region and all the 10 regions of the country.

The Minister for Lands & Natural Resources, Mike Hammah, in a speech said the workshop signified an important milestone in the country’s collective effort to manage the mining industry better than before.

“We could use them as a basis for demanding accountable governance from the various players in the mining industry, including regulators of the mining sector and related institutions,” he indicated.

“Better understanding provided for in the law will also enhance the ability of the participants and Ghanaians as a whole to cooperate with and complement the efforts of the regulatory institutions to ensure management of the country’s natural resources and bio-physical environment, as well as socio-economic environment,” Mr. Hammah said.
The workshop was attended by representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), members of the Small Scale Miners Association, police personnel, officials from the Lands Commission, Judiciary, the Military, and traditional leaders as well as District Chiefs Executives (DCEs).

EPA ensures strict compliance on re-mining pit

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting social concerns and other implications on a proposed re-mining pit project by the Ghana Manganese Company (GMC) Limited at Nsuta-Tarkwa in the Western Region.
This development, which is in accordance with Ghana Environmental Impact Assessment procedure, is to ensure that GMC works strictly according to the new mining law that states communities within 500 metres of a mining company should be relocated.

In 2010 the EPA detected that GMC Limited had started digging the north “c” pit, which was not part of the initial agreement with their outfit.

The pit had been a liability for the government of Ghana: EPA immediately stopped the activities of the company and asked them to procure the necessary document before proceeding with the work.

Mr. Ali Sandow, Tarkwa Nsueam Municipal Director of EPA, addressing the chief, elders and people of Tarkwa Banso on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report on the proposed North “C” Pit project, disclosed: “The EPA has now received a draft EIS report by GMC Limited on the proposed project, as required under Act 490, section 12 (1) and Regulation 16 of the Environmental Assessment Regulations 1999 (LI 1652).

“If the two parties come to a compromise, an independent committee will begin assessment on the resettlement process for the Tarkwa Banso Community, which would be affected if the company began operation.”

Mr. Omar Timtey, Community Affairs Manager of GMC Limited, speaking at the public forum said the re-mining operation will affect a smaller portion of the Tarkwa-Banso Community, adding that the company is prepared to relocate that number.

He appealed to the community to maintain calm as the company will be required by law to ensure that the welfare of every Ghanaian is put first.

Mr. David Nsowa Ansah, Youth Secretary of Tarkwa-Banso, said that GMC Limited had not lived up to its social responsibility in the Tarkwa Community.

He observed that throughout the 100 years of mining in the community, the company’s operations have caused health hazards, cracks in their buildings and a poor road network.

“The community was not interested in the project, because the company has failed totally in improving the standard of the community,” he remarked.