Golden Star re-opens Prestea underground mine

July 27, 2017
Source: Norvan Acquah - Hayford/thebftonline.com/Ghana
Golden Star re-opens Prestea underground mine

Golden Star Resources Limited, a West African-focused mid-tier gold producer, will begin formal operation of the once defunct underground mine at Prestea located within the Wassa Heman township in the Western Region.

The Prestea operation, which is expected to be inaugurated before the close of the year, will be the second mine of the company.

The over 100-year old goldmine in Prestea has not been in full operation for almost 40 years, but is thought to hold gold reserves of about 490,000 ounces (1.1Mt at 13.93g/t) with a mine life of 5.5 years.

The underground mine, acquired by Golden Star in 2002, was previously owned by the Government of Ghana and the Ghana Mineworkers Union.

Chief Executive Officer and President of Golden Star Resources Limited, Sam Coetzer, told the B&FT that the company was working hard to invest more on further exploration to allow for the current life span of the mine to be extend to create more jobs for the youth within its catchment area.

"I think this mine can and will by itself be able to fund its future growth. It could potentially do that because of what we are seeing in the cashflow. What we will do and what we are already doing is funding an exploration project. So, we want to see if there is more and we have already started that. We have also allocated some US$2.3million for the Prestea operation which we will invest into drilling to see if we can find bigger spaces or see if the mine could be bigger," he said.

He added that: "We are looking at the both the leverage of Bogoso, Prestea surface and underground pits and any extension of that could create increase in labour in the future. However, what we have to do is to take the chance and make sure that we structure the underground correctly because you want to give meaningful jobs not just jobs. We are using modern methods of mining."

He also added that as Golden Star builds the infrastructure at the mine and grow from 650 tonnes a day to about a 1000 tonnes a day, the company will definitely have the need for more labour thereby creating more jobs for the youth.

Increasing the life span of the mine

Mr. Coetzer told the B&FT that the company was also working assiduously to extend the life span of the mine.

"Officially we a have a mine with a life span of a little over five (5) years but I can tell you we are going to add to that. Its five years on the books but looking at the reserves we are going to add to that. "We have only drawn enough to be able to fund it but if I look at the areas we have not drawn and also have not been mined over the years, I do believe that we can extend the life span of this mine. This because we have two visions which is not only to extend the life but also increase the throughput," he added.

Golden Star Resources, Mr. Coetzer noted, has embraced the local content drive or agenda of government.

"In the meantime, we are focused on delivering on the foundation of the underground mine, as you saw the host full of people are employed by Golden Star who are Ghanaians and it will interest you to know that our employees, with regards Ghanaians and expatriates, we have a workforce made of up to 95% being Ghanaians and most of our contractors are also Ghanaians," he said.

Illegal mining

Commenting on illegal mining in the country Mr. Coetzer said: "Illegal mining has not impacted our company yet because we have strong security team and good relations with the community. However, its hurt me when people get influenced by others to do what is not right."

Though galamsey affects many facets of life, one area in which its impact is being felt most is the pollution of rivers and water bodies.  The extent to which rivers have been polluted exerts significant pressure on individuals who live near and depend on river bodies for their livelihood and as the main source of drinking water.

"My biggest concern recently was reiterated recently when 17 young men died when they engaged in illegal mining in a shaft very close to Prestea. I think the education to tell people about the dangers of illegal mining firstly to themselves is very important.

We run our operations under extremely strict conditions in terms of the environment because we want to give back. We turn all the places we mine into oil palm plantations, making sure that there is some regeneration of cash in the future," he said.

Data available has revealed that over 9million ounces of gold has been mined in the Prestea area since 1877, including 6million ounces from Prestea Underground situated on the Ashanti GoldBelt a world famous gold mining district.