Lubambe continued with restructuring through downsizing of output and the reduction of related labour cost.
The largest contributors to the unit cost savings were a reduction in labour cost due to a 66.00% reduction in expatriate labour, a reduction in stoping dilution obtained through an improvement in the mining stoping method, and a 4.00% increase in plant recoveries obtained through plant optimisation initiatives.
This is the first reporting period in which Lubambe operated in accordance with the reduced production target of 80,000 tonnes of ore per month. The reduced target was implemented in March 2016 to curtail operating losses, save cash and preserve the ore body whilst implementing a strategy to upgrade the underground dewatering infrastructure.
During the period under review a labour restructuring programme was successfully concluded which aligned the total labour complement with the revised lower production rate of 80,000 tonnes per month. Ongoing capital expenditure was curtailed to preserve cash with the majority of expenditure being incurred for mine ramp development.
The Lubambe Extension Project was put on hold until an opportune time when conditions are suitable for additional investment. This high-grade area remains an integral part of the future development of the Lubambe ore body.
During the second half of 2016, more than 300% increase in underground pumping capacity was obtained through the successful upgrade of the underground pumping infrastructure. The upgrades enabled Lubambe to dewater all declines that were previously flooded for a period of 10 months. Following the dewatering, substantial progress was made in the development of the declines. During November and December 2016, decline development advance was well in excess of requirements for sustainable production. This achievement will enable Lubambe to obtain access to new ore development areas at a faster rate, which will enhance the ability to ramp-up mining production.
There were no dividends declared during the year under review (2015: Nil).