Canadian gold mining company Banro will start producing gold at its Democratic Republic of Congo mine on Oct. 10, ramping up output to 120,000 ounces per year by January, the company said on Wednesday.
Banro's Twangiza mine, in the eastern province of South Kivu where rebel groups operate, is the first new gold mining project in Congo for more than half a century.
Twangiza, high in the hills of eastern Congo, is the first of four mines the company plans to open on a 200 km gold belt, with a total production target of 400,000 ounces per year by 2014, Gary Chapman, the company's vice president of operations, told Reuters during a presentation at the site.
We think we've got a similar belt to the Ashanti gold belt in Ghana, Chapman said, adding that the company was focused on maximising short term cash flow from Twangiza up to $120 million per year to finance the next three mines.
Banro will achieve this by focusing on cheaper-to-exploit oxide resources before moving to its sulphide resources in five years' time, Chapman said.
The company says Twangiza's confirmed oxide deposits total 1.3 million ounces and will cost less than $500 per ounce to produce. Spot gold was trading at around $1,615 an ounce late on Wednesday.