An Australian company working towards mining gold from the Okvau deposit in Mondulkiri province, currently estimated at 729,000 ounces, expects to employ more than 1,000 local people during the mine’s construction phase and 500 in the longer term.
Renaissance Minerals managing director Justin Tremain told the Cambodian Association for Mining and Exploration Companies (CAMEC) at the Hotel InterContinental on Tuesday night that Renaissance was spending about $1 million a month on “aggressive exploration” using the latest technology and employing between 50 and 60 people.
Tremain said Renaissance was aiming for a project capable of producing more than 100,000 ounces of gold a year, with a value of more than $200 million, with “significant economic benefits to Cambodia”.
“As a company, we are entirely focused on this project, very active exploration-wise, and spending a million [dollars] a month on drilling and other exploration activities,” Tremain said.
“We want to be known as the first company to set the benchmark for gold mining in Cambodia.”
Tremain said the area of exploration would double during the next six months of the dry season.
Renaissance is a listed company on the Australian stock exchange, with a market capitalisation between $30 and $40 million and shareholdings from OZ Minerals and Gryphon Minerals, as well as institutional investors.
“We’re doing a lot of exploring in Mondulkiri, and we’re going to move to development and production as quickly as possible,” Tremain said.
The financial benefits to Cambodia would be not only local employment but also taxes and royalties to the government and the training of Cambodians in geology and mining, he said.
“We are improving the livelihoods of the communities we’re operating in. The management of Renaissance operates to the highest standards, community-wise and environmentally.”
Renaissance supports a boarding school in Mondulkiri province as well as the Red Cross.
“We take our corporate social responsibility seriously, and we really do put a lot of effort in trying to make a difference in the local community,” Tremain said.
Renaissance was putting all its energy into the Okvau deposit in the eastern province, he said.
“We are totally focused on this project, and our future lies in Cambodia, and we think we’ve picked up a project that has had a lot of good work done. We’ve inherited a good database and a land position.”
The land holdings were recently acquired by Renaissance from OZ Minerals, also an Australian mining company.
Tremain said there was great exploration potential within a 10-kilometre radius of the Okvau deposit.
He said the price of gold had increased 19 per cent year on year and would continue to do so.
“We are firmly of the belief that gold prices are going to increase over the next five years.”
Tremain’s background is in financing mining developments outside of Australiawith an expert technical team.
One recent project in West Africa, estimated to contain four million ounces of gold, is about to go into production. Cambodia, however, is Tremain’s current focus.
“Cambodia is one of the few places in the world with a stable government and where exploration has begun only recently,” he said.
“We think the Cambodian government is supportive and wants to see a mining industry developed.
“The government supports foreign expertise coming in, which we think will bring significant benefits to the country.”
Tremain said the deposits around Okvau in Mondulkiri were a new type of “intrusive” deposits, and some of the world’s largest deposits had a similar geological and chemical make-up.
“The geology and chemistry is consistent with very large deposits, and we’re looking at 729,000 ounces in a sheeted vein system, with the potential to continue to grow.”
The gold is present at about two grams per tonne in underground rock formations that will be mined, then crushed, using a leeching system to extract the gold. Renaissance has drilled the area to a depth of 350 metres, but Tremain says most of the metals are located in the upper part of the deposit.
“The quicker we get to production, the better,” he told the CAMEC gathering.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]