Red Rock Resources Plc., a U.K. gold exploration and mining company, said it will increase its stake in the Migori project in Kenya and expects “large-scale” production at the site to start by 2016.
Red Rock will raise its stake in Mid Migori Mining, a closely held Kenyan company, to 75 percent from 15 percent by financing a feasibility study for a gold mine, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bell said. Initial findings indicate the mine may produce as much as 50,000 ounces in the first three to four years, he said in an Oct. 12 interview in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.
“We have found the right type of things happening there, we have identified the areas where there are high gold grades,” Bell said. “Realistically we are looking at 2015 or 2016 for serious production on a large scale.”
Kenya has deposits of metals including gold, copper and zinc and is Africa’s biggest producer of soda ash, which is used to make glass, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. Mining accounts for 0.8 percent of the country’s $32 billion economy, according to the African Development Bank.
Red Rock acquired its stake in Mid Migori in 2009. Since then, the company has invested more than $10 million in the project, situated 264 kilometers (164 miles) west of Nairobi, Bell said. Most of the expenditure has been on drilling, data collection and a scoping study. The company applied to the Kenyan government last month for a mining lease and will start a feasibility study “soon,” Bell said.
Gold has risen 11 percent this year as central banks from the U.S. to Japan and China took steps to support growth hurt by Europe’s debt crisis. Spot gold was little changed at $1,738.90 an ounce at 7:45 a.m. in London.
Red Rock already has interests in a rare-earth project in Malawi, agro-minerals such as phosphate in Sudan and manganese in South Africa, Bell said. The company is also keen on pursuing copper exploration in Zambia, Africa’s biggest producer of the metal, he said.
Red Rock welcomed Kenya’s proposed legislation for the mining industry, which among other things stipulates that a minimum of 35 percent of the project is domestically owned, with 5 percent of royalties going to local communities and 15 percent to county governments.
“The idea of making sure some benefits from mining go to county level, national level and local communities is a good one as it addresses one of the grievances of mining communities around the world that very often it is the national government that takes all the benefit,” Bell said.