QKR Namibia Navachab Gold Mine recently reached a significant milestone in its mine expansion strategy when it executed a historic blast, resulting in a 5.5m x 5.5m portal drive. This is the first step towards the mine’s plans to undertake underground mining, in addition to the open pit mining it has been operating since its establishment in 1989.
The mine is conducting a trial underground mining project as a result of positive outcomes by a conceptual study conducted in 2020. Managing director George Botshiwe says the expansion endeavours were brought about by the successful employee-driven turnaround strategy aptly named Project Khaima, which means rise up in the Damara language.
“Project Khaima enabled the mine to turn around the unsustainable cost base which faced us in 2018 to a sustainable cashflow position, which has made the company self-funding, and has enabled investment into expansion projects which are critical to the sustainability of the mine,” Botshiwe explained.
This trial underground mine comes at a cost of more than N$160 million, and aims to employ 90 staff for the trial mining period. The trial mine is to run until the end of 2021, whereafter further studies will be conducted to assess underground mining viability.
Botshiwe said “the trial mine and eventual underground mining will open up a huge opportunity for Navachab, and places us on an upward trajectory like never before. I would wish to thank the entire Navachab family for its resilience resulting in the success of the turnaround strategy, which enabled the execution of this project. I would also wish to thank the Navachab Gold team involved in the project, and our partners Murray & Roberts’ cementation team for their perseverance and hard work in realising the commencement of this historic endeavour”. He added that Navachab has additional expansion plans, which will be revealed in due course.