Scandinavian mining company Akobo Minerals has begun operations on its “ultra-small” mining plant in Ethiopia, which seeks to demonstrate the viability of mining from the washed-out tailings of abandoned artisanal mines.

Workers at the plant successfully extracted gold this week following its opening. Crushed and milled material will now be used to recover larger volumes of gold from the site.

Jørgen Evjen, CEO of Akobo Minerals, said in a press release: “We had hoped for production by now from the main processing plant, but this stop-gap measure of using a two tonnes [per] hour ultra-small plant will allow us to use this proof-of-concept to iron out any issues now, whilst also securing some early gold production”.

The remaining parts required for the plant’s construction are due to arrive in the second quarter of 2023. Evjen said that the company is “completing all necessary building and operational elements of the plant and we will be well-placed for the main plant’s successful integration once on-site”. The company holds a mining license for an area of 16 square kilometres.

Solo Resources provided the “ultra-small” plant amid delays due to electricity and cement shortages affecting the installation of the main processing plant.

Artisanal mining takes place casually usually beyond legal limits and industry compliance. The waste, or tailings, is oftentimes still rich in mineral deposits.

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By GlobalData

The Segele deposit was discovered by artisanal miners in 2015 and has produced high-grade gold since. The Ethiopian government predicts that a total of 600kg has been recovered from the main pit.

While the gold recovered from the Segele gold deposit this week is of limited economic value for Akobo Minerals, the company predicts that both the grade and volume of gold will increase following the installation of the main plant.

Following the successful trail Akobo Minerals plans to begin production shortly.