By A Correspondent| Chinese miner Ming Chang Sino Africa has commenced operations at its new gold mine in Manicaland’s Odzi area about 30km outside Mutare after pumping in millions in United States dollars to procure new equipment.
The company partnered locals to extract gold on the lucrative deposits where 60 have been employed since commencement of operations in May.
Mine director Liu Xialong said the company has 16 claims and it is currently working on one of them.
“Indications are that these are very good deposits and the mine life is quite long. We are prepared to invest millions on this project, but I can’t give you the specific numbers at this stage, ” Xialong said.
The mine hopes to employ an additional 60 permanent workers in the stage 2 of the project.
The long term plan will be to increase local employment numbers to at least 100 which will take the total staff compliment to a minimum of 300 workers.
Investments in Manicaland’s Odzi area has recorded heavy losses amid reports that workers were siphoning fuel from excavators, trucks and storage tanks at the site.
The Chinese owned company reported the matter to local police leading to investigations which unearthed a well elaborate scheme that management said could have cost the company 10 000litres of diesel since operations started.
At least three employees resigned earlier in September during police investigations while others simply ran away when they got wind that the net was fast closing in on them.
Xiaolong told this publication that the culprits drained diesel from excavators, trucks and two on-site fuel storage tanks whose combined capacity is 50 000 litres.
“Over 1000 litres was stolen every month and this puts us to at least 6 000 litres and maybe it can even reach 10 000 ” Xialong said during a tour of the mine.
“It took an internal audit which looked at the traditional use of fuel using similar new trucks for the same kind of work. We looked at log books and found serious discrepancies. For example, excavators which used to be 25l per hour on peak have now reached 40l per hour.
“At the same time, our average fuel consumption per hour is plus or minus 20l yet it has shot to at least 25l per hour. We investigated and caught some workers draining fuel which is then sold to small-scale gold miners in the area, Police investigations confirmed that fuel was being stolen and action was taken.
After disciplinary proceedings and tightening of internal controls, consumption for the excavators had slid significantly to between 16 and 18 litres per hour.
“Some suspects remain on the mine because we could not catch everyone involved or prove allegations but the new system is working, ” he said.