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This project is to develop four emerald mines in Zambia, currently worked by hand. For the purpose of this prospectus I will use only one plot as an example.
PLACE: Plot 5G, Ndola Rural Area, Copperbelt, Zambia.
28.14 deg east, 13.12 deg South.
SIZE: 108 ha
DEPOSITS: Confirmed three areas of approximately 170,000 sq./m
each. More expected at deeper levels.
GEMSTONES: Emeralds, Tourmaline, Green Beryl, various other Quartz
Early in 1997 The owner obtained the mining rights of Plot 5G. The owner hired ROSMO MINING AND ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS from Lusaka to do an assessment on The Plot (Ref to Geological Section). This assessment was carried out during April 1997 and THREE highly positive areas were identified, where the deposits are closest to the surface. Small scale diggings commenced and within a few weeks emerald occurrence was confirmed at two of the sites. Investigation is presently at Zone 3. Due to financial restraint this is still a typical artisinal operation - spade, wheelbarrow, hammer and chisel with about eight workers.
Geological Survey done during September 1997 pointed out the following:
* The emerald deposits are ideal for a bulk mining operation.
* The estimates of overburden in the three zones average 9 to 25 metres.
* Earth moving equipment is needed to remove this overburden as soon as
* Present in this overburden are fractions and poorly formed crystals of
emeralds, tourmalines and quartz. This will be recovered and might even
pay for some of the operating costs.
The ultimate aim and care is to extract the crystals in the largest possible clusters. From these, by using diamond saws, the emeralds will be cleaned off - instead of the present hammer and chisel system which causes further fracturing.
Plot 5G has three prospecting pits located on the three main theories pointed out by the mine surveyors. The pit (#3) worked on at the moment, by hand, is located on the Northeast corner of the plot in Zone B.
The mining plan will have three main phases:
- Remove overburden
* Bulldoze to 4 metres
* Clear rest of overburden off with excavators and trucks
- Open cast mining to a depth of about 50 metres
- Tunnel mining, following emerald bearing veins
Exploration drilling is suggested to obtain accurate readings of the geology of the entire plot. I would also like to make use of the Geological Dept of WITS to determine the effect of geoscience / geophysical equipment in determining underground veins.
As pointed out in the geological reports the overburden on the plot varies between 9 and 12 metres. Although there are occurrences of beryl (emerald, aquamarine) and quartz (citrine, rock and smoky) crystals in this overburden, the priority will be to remove it as quickly as possible, thus gaining access to the emerald bearing schist and pegmatites.
Starting point will be on Zone B at the Northern eastern border of the plot, about 50 metres from the eastern border, and working South.
Clearing of vegetation (especially the trees) will take an estimated one weeks. For this we will need two chain saws. To save time and cost, this could be contracted out to one of the timber companies. We would then lose a large portion of the income from the timber.
Using a bulldozer (D7 or larger) the first pit will commence about 50 metres from the eastern border of the plot. Working South 75 metres and west 75 metres. The bull dozer will rip the soil followed by eight or more workers, each searching with pick and shovel locating possible minerals. After ripping the whole area, the soil will be cleared out to the east end of the plot.
This procedure will continue till a depth of about four metres or until the solid granite stops this procedure. The southwards direction could be extended for another 75 metres.
The bulldozer team will continue clearing up the next area (first pit in Zone A) and then onwards to Zone C.
After the bulldozer work has cleared a pit, excavators and trucks will be needed to remove the rest of the overburden to the actual production depth, which might be from 9 to 15 metres. Once high potential rock is reached, we will have to switch to smaller back hoe / front end loaders. The mining procedure will change from here onwards to smaller operations. Ideally we will have three teams working with hand tools, jack hammer and back hoe/loader in every pit.
There are three distinct occurrences of beryl and other crystals found in this area - alluvial (mostly in the overburden), embedded (single crystals formed within the schist and granites) and pockets or veins.
TYPE 1: In Overburden
The beryl in the overburden is usually of low quality, however, high gemstone quality do occur. The lower quality also has market value. Most of the overburden will be searched on site during the ripping process, before moving out to the dumps. Should an area be found with higher concentrations of beryl or quartz, this ore will be moved to the recovery plant.
TYPE 2: Embedded
Emerald bearing host rock (schist, tourmaline quartz, quartz, etc.) will be moved to the recovery plant, crushed and searched.
TYPE 3: Pockets & veins
These are the main emerald producers. This type of occurrence needs to be searched and recovered on site rather than removal to the recovery plant. Whenever a vein is found, quartz or other, extreme care must be taken to ensure the least possible damage to crystals. This is one of the reasons why further mining is to have smaller teams working with jack hammers and hand tools, using excavation machinery simply to open up the host rocks.
The recovery plant will be divided into three areas: receiving, recovery and dispatch. The receiving and recovery areas will be fenced in and have CCTV monitoring.
All material from the pits will be stockpiled in two areas - overburden and host rock. From here material will be transported to the sieves by conveyor belts. First priority is to work on the host rock. If no host rock is available, work will continue on overburden.
Sieves will work in series, starting off with a rolling sieve of 5 cm grit, feeding to the second of 10 cm grit and on to the third of 20 cm. Rocks larger than this will be crushed and then re-cycled through the sieves.
High pressure water jets would also be installed to wash the gravel when required.
From each of the grit sizes a conveyor belt of approximately 20 metres will run through a picking area. On each conveyor three to ten people will pick crystals by hand. At the other end, the waist will be collected and dumped. The 20 cm rock could be recycled.
A hydraulic crusher plant will be needed to break the larger host rocks. Another option is an 200 tons per day milling plant. The rock will be searched and dumped directly or may pass through the sieves again, depending on the quantity.
Waist will be removed by dumpers to the dumping areas.
At present the plot has a small compound, housing 14 permanent workers - from the nearby village of Chief Nkana temporally workers are available.
Of the present staff, the production manager was a senior mining operator at one of the copper mines, (they closed down in 1996) and another three of the workers are licenced plant operators.
Most of the people in the copperbelt were employed by the Zambian Copper mines and has good practical experience on open pit mining. Machine operators, miners, pit workers, etc. are freely available, lowering the rate of salary compared to South Africa and the rest of the world.
Most of the mining in the copperbelt is of open cast nature.
To utilize tax incentives and for added value we plan to establish a small lapidary on the mining property. The exceptional high grade will be sent to Israel or Europe for faceting by highly skilled artists. The rest of the material will be processed in our own lapidary or sold on the open market. We intend doing faceting, cabochons, carving and creating other ornamental objects.
It is a well-known fact that the quality and colour of Zambian emeralds are amongst the best in the world - if not the best. The markets are established already - Zambian emeralds are mainly processed in Israel and India and thereafter sold to Europe. Besides the above standard routes, I have a few other options available.
Gemstones will be sold on our own international auctions, by using the Internet and direct marketing. At a later stage one of my objects will be to establish an Emerald Trading Centre in Ndola.
Marketing of emeralds poses no problem. Natural good quality emeralds are always in high demand.
The emerald market is totally under supplied and will be for the foreseen future. At present I have a demand for US$20 million from New York, 5 million Pound sterling from England, and US$10 million per month from Thailand. This alone is more than the average monthly production of Zambia in 1997!
Security is one of the most important aspects of working in the mining environment of Africa. Relying on the traditional methods, practised world wide is not effective in Africa. There are many reasons, one being the brotherhood of Africans, intimidation, and willingness to take risks.
We will incorporate all the standard security measures - fences, lights, guards and dogs. At a later stage perhaps construct a changeroom system with security pass-through. This will operate on the basis of a Private and Company section.
Personnel will come from home, change into an apron, place ALL their belongings in a locker, pass through a scanner device to the company side, put on their work clothes and go to work.
When going off duty, the reverse procedure will be implemented. The security scanners will deter theft and provide a degree of security as NOTHING is to be carried out.
These measures do work quite effectively in the rest of the world, but not in Africa. Here you have the brother working as security guard who will let you pass. Even by management monitoring security as is the situation in Kamakanga, they devised a way around it. Parcels of emeralds are hidden during the day at a certain location, at night the security guards collect this and transport it out. At Kagem mine another technique was used for a while. The workers locate a pocket of emeralds during the day, mark it and cover it up. At night they slip through the fence and mine the emeralds!
Parcels are often just thrown over the fence and collected later on.
HOW TO COPE WITH THIS PROBLEM:
I have three complimentary techniques: Personnel, Sharing, and CCTV.
Security personnel should be brought in from other regions rather than the local people. I do know the Senior Commanding Officer (Compared to rank of Colonel) of a remote district personally. This man is of high integrity and honesty. We might be able to obtain his services as Chief of Security.
Implement a system of bonus or production sharing. As we will have various teams working we should establish a friendly competition between them. This will promote productivity and at the same time give us a leverage on security.
Divide operations into three teams: Pit workers, Recovery plant and Security.
10% of all products (excluding the top first grade) are to be added to a drum for every team, visible to all.
At the end of the month, half this drum is evaluated and shares paid out to the relevant teams. The other half is added to a yearly drum, which is used as year end bonus for the team.
Should any member from any team find a member of another team stealing or in possession of emeralds outside the mining area, or in process of stealing emeralds, half of the months bonus drum is to be transferred from the guilty teams drum to that of the informants team. Should their monthly drum be empty, they forfeit half their yearly bonus drum. If the member is of the same team, it is left to the team to respond. Effectively, they will work him out.
Should any of the Security officers be the guilty person, 100% of their drum is forfeited. Should management catch any person, 100% of their teams drum is forfeited to the company.
The above is in short, but the following is the spin off:
1. Internal competition, obtaining higher productivity.
2. Jealous guarding of their own shares, and trying to catch some of the other teams.
3. Feeling of participation, sharing and belonging.
4. Team building.
5. Team management will work out their own problems. Management will have less to do regarding the labour relations (employment, discharge, etc.) For this will be done by the team themselves.
Install the standard CCTV cameras around the Recovery plant and have mobile units to place in the pits when working. At night time no person is to be allowed in the mining areas. This can be assisted with trained dogs.
Added to above is to use candid camera - remote signalling cameras as used in industrial espionage. These miniature cameras (3x3 cm connected to a sender of 20x15 cm) could be hidden and used to view operations from a distance of up to 300 metres.
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