Village joint chief executive Bernard Swanepoel. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

Gold and antimony miner Village Main Reef (VIL) has reported a 20% decline in gold production to 49‚111oz for the quarter ended December 2012 after the record gold production achieved during the September quarter‚ largely as a result of the seasonal holidays‚ industrial action and safety-related stoppages.

Antimony production - at 1‚255t - was 15% (or 218t) lower than the production achieved during the September 2012 quarter.

“The South African mining industry has concluded one of the most difficult quarters in South African mining history‚ with labour unrest impacting across the sector. The Village operations did not escape the impact of these events‚ with production volumes at most of our operations lower than anticipated‚” said Village joint CEO Marius Saaiman.

“We are optimistic that the actions taken by management‚ including our restructuring plans at Blyvoor and renewed safety improvement strategies‚ should have a positive impact on our performance during the March 2012 quarter‚” he added.

Gold production at Tau Lekoa Gold Mine for the December quarter was 27‚360oz - down 14% compared to the September quarter‚ largely due to safety related stoppages‚ the slow start up post the fatal accident that occurred during the quarter and the impact of lower production volumes on the overall mining mix that resulted in lower recovered grade.

Production volumes and mix have stabilised and a review of safety systems and improvement strategies are in the initial stages of implementation and should have a positive impact on the March quarter‚ the company noted.

Gold production at Buffelsfontein Gold Mine was 10‚359oz - an improvement of 10% (or 934oz) over the September quarter. This was largely as a result of an improvement in production volumes‚ notwithstanding the impact of a safety related stoppage at the high-grade number 2 shaft and the fatal accident that occurred towards the end of the quarter.

“We are working with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) inspectorate and independent experts to deliver safety system improvements and strategies for accident prevention‚” the company said.

Cons Murch Mine delivered 1‚255t of antimony and 2‚037oz of gold for the December quarter‚ a decline of 15% (or 218t) in antimony and a decline of 27% (or 737oz) in gold compared to the September 2012 quarter.

Production performance was affected by lower volumes resulting from a prolonged stoppage for infrastructure repairs at the high-volume Monarch shaft. Normal production has since been restored.

Gold production at Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine was 9‚355oz‚ 46% (or 8‚038oz) lower than the September quarter. Shareholders were advised previously that the unprotected mine strike action during October 2012 and early in December 2012‚ coupled with a seismic event that affected 40% of underground production areas‚ would materially affect Blyvoor´s production during the December quarter.

Production at Blyvoor was further affected by a stoppage of certain working areas following a fall of ground event that resulted in a fatality at the beginning of December 2012. The affected working areas are being re- established and a revised fall of ground management strategy is being implemented.

The company will release its half year report towards the end of February. - I-Net Bridge