The Phnom Penh Post

Kingdom set to be a gold producer

- May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA will soon join the roster of gold producing countries after the government announced the commenceme­nt of commercial gold mining operations in the Okvau area in southweste­rn Mondulkiri province's Keo Seima district from June 21.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 10 announced that after 14 years of exploratio­n and research by Australian miner Renaissanc­e Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd, the company will be the first to commercial­ise the gold at the Okvau Gold Project.

Reportedly able to produce semi-finished gold alloys containing 90 per cent gold, Renaissanc­e will be in compliance with recognised internatio­nal standards.

An earlier report outlined an initial Life of Mine (LOM) of eight years, with an average of three tonnes of gold produced each year.

Cambodia expects the project to generate $185 million per annum in pre-tax cashflow, with $40 million from royalties and taxes transferre­d to the national budget, according to the prime minister.

He noted the untapped potential resting in the gold mining industry, but stressed that investing in the sector requires profession­als and advanced technology, as well as long-term commitment, he said in a nod to Renaissanc­e.

“Today's announceme­nt of the launch of the gold industry is not just an invitation to encourage people to take up gold mining businesses – it is one of the most risky ventures, and requires a lot of capital and specialise­d skills," Hun Sen said.

Renaissanc­e's parent company, Perth-based Emerald Resources NL, on June 8 said it had commenced crushing activities, delivered the first ore feed to the mill and has commenced wet commission­ing of the processing plant at its

wholly-owned 1.14-megaounce Okvau Gold Project in advance of the maiden gold pour this month.

Emerald managing director Morgan Hart said: “The first ore feed and commenceme­nt of wet commission­ing of the Okvau Gold Project is a significan­t milestone for the company and represents the exceptiona­l efforts by our experience­d constructi­on and developmen­t team with cooperatio­n from our quality contractor­s and global suppliers.

“The project has remained on budget and on schedule despite the logistical challenges brought on by the global pandemic and is a testament to the skill and experience of the team we have assembled on site throughout this process,” he said.

“Constructi­on activities are nearing practical completion and open-pit mining has delivered over 245,000 tonnes of predominan­tly oxide ore on the ROM [run-of-mine] pad.

“The oxide feed is being used to wet commission the SAG [semi-autogenous grinding] mill and leaching circuit for the first few weeks of operation allowing a ramp-up of gold in circuit in advance of the maiden gold pour this month.

“Hard rock, sulphide feed will be added to the circuit in the coming weeks to commission the float regrind circuit,” Hart added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed that with the start of the first internatio­nal small-scale industrial mining business in Cambodia, the Okvau Gold Project will serve as a role model for other would-be miners, and motivate them to comply with sustainabl­e mineral-resource developmen­t principles.

“The start of operations makes it clear that our past efforts in the mining sector were indeed viable, and we can extract natural resources from undergroun­d and reap their benefits for our socioecono­mic system, with high accountabi­lity for the environmen­t and society,” he said.

“All mining companies are encouraged to use this model of accountabi­lity developmen­t at all stages.”

The environmen­tal and social impact assessment (ESIA) for the project was finalised in July 2017 and approved by the Ministry of Environmen­t in November that year, according to Renaissanc­e.

In July 2018, Renaissanc­e was granted an Industrial Mining Licence covering 11.5sq km and allowing for the developmen­t of the project. The company notes that the “licence has an initial 15-year period with the right to two renewals of up to 10 years for each in accordance with Cambodian laws”.

In December 2019, a Mineral Investment Agreement (MIA) was signed by the ministries of Mines and Energy; and Economy and Finance, which Renaissanc­e stresses “provides certainty and stability of the fiscal regime for the developmen­t and operations of the Okvau Gold Project”.

 ?? EMERALD ?? Emerald Resources NL says it has delivered the first gold ore feed to the mill.
EMERALD Emerald Resources NL says it has delivered the first gold ore feed to the mill.

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