African gold producer Goldplat has announced the commissioning of the first stage of the new processing plant at Kilimapesa Gold Mine in Kenya.

Designed to process 200t of ore daily, the plant will have a crusher circuit, mills, a thickener, leach tanks and an elution plant. The facility will also have a tailings deposition.

Goldplat has segregated the project into three stages. Stage one consists of commissioning of the plant is now complete, excluding the crusher circuit.

The second stage involves installation of the crusher circuit with three additional leach tanks. The third and final stage consists of installation of the second mill and development of three additional leach tanks.

Goldplat CEO Gerard Kisbey-Green said: “I am very pleased with the board's decision to proceed with an expansion plan at our Kilimapesa gold mine, which represents an investment of the order of $2m.

“Although it is modest in terms of production, we believe it will result in the commencement of sustainable profitability at Kilimapesa. Having achieved a production rate of 60t per day, following the successful implementation of Stage One, I believe we have already proven that we made the right decision.”

The decision to develop a new processing plant and tailings deposition facility near the Kilimapesa Hill underground mine was taken last year.

The plant will help increase gold production, reduce operating costs and to return Kilimapesa to profitability.

Goldplat has opted to fund the project internally. It has also decided to construct the plant using existing equipment, management and skills within the company where possible.

A processing plant at the company's recovery operations in Ghana was deconstructed, containerised, and shipped to Kenya. Two additional secondhand mills were also bought in South Africa, with one designated for production and one a spare.

"Although it is modest in terms of production, we believe it will result in the commencement of sustainable profitability at Kilimapesa."

All engineering, manufacturing, construction and installation works were completed by in-house teams, with the exception of a few critical work streams, including overall plant layout and design work.

Stage one was commissioned on 23 December 2016 and has progressed on time and on budget. During the last few months of 2016, a total 6,000t of crushed ore was created, which is enough to feed the plant until the crusher circuit is ready and additional leaching capacity has been commissioned.

A key cut for the tailings facility has been constructed. Tailings are currently being deposited into a borrow pit contained within the final dam footprint.

Furthermore, plans are underway to increase the final tailings facility's size in the near-term to further reduce costs.

In stage two, installation of the crusher circuit and an additional three leach tanks has started and commissioning is expected during April. This stage will see the new plant process 120t a day and once the plant is fully commissioned and producing at steady state, an annual rate of roughly 4,500oz of gold is being planned.

The old facility will continue to produce roughly 2,300oz of gold a year as long as tailings capacity exists, leading to a potential total production rate of 6,800oz per annum.

Stage three will be planned and started based on the performance of operations once a steady production has been achieved.