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Gold Fields (GFI) Ltd., the fourth-largest producer of the precious metal, halted a gold-recovery plant at its Tarkwa mine after Ghana said water discharged from the site required additional treatment.
“Gold Fields believes Tarkwa was complying with the prescribed conductivity levels in its water discharges, but is nonetheless conducting further investigations to validate this,” the company said in a statement today. The plant was stopped July 16 after a directive from Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency, it said.
Gold Fields sprays chemicals over some of the ore extracted at Tarkwa to liberate gold in a low-cost process known as heap leaching. The plant, 185 miles west of the capital, Accra, accounted for 28 percent of the mine’s 717,000 ounces of 2011 production. Tarkwa is Gold Fields’ second-largest mine by output after the Kloof-Driefontein complex in South Africa, and has the third-lowest costs of all its operations.
Ghana’s EPA ordered the company to stop discharging water from the heap-leach site and to build treatment plants to reduce conductivity levels, the company said. Gold Fields will build the plants by the end of the year, it said.
“We’re talking to the EPA,” company spokesman Sven Lunsche said today when asked about resuming production at the plant. “We’re confident we can reach an agreement with them, hopefully within the next week or two, but it’s not guaranteed,” he said by mobile phone.
Gold Fields gained for a fifth day, adding 0.2 percent to 104.45 rand by the close in in Johannesburg for its longest winning streak since November.
Conductivity is a measure of the amount of dissolved salts in discharged water, Gold Fields said in its statement.
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