DIAMOND PAGE — Partners pull plug on Mbala mine

Partners United Reef (URP-T) and Trans Hex International (THI-T) have decided to permanently close their Mbala diamond mine in the Central African Republic.

The mine has been on care and maintenance since last October, when Trans Hex decided against contributing to a work program recommended by United Reef. Trans Hex, which owns 46% of the Bamingui River property on which the mine is situated, opted instead to write-off the $7.3-million carrying value of its share of the property from its accounts and concentrate on other properties.

The two companies are currently dismantling the 30-tonne-per-hour processing plant and reclaiming the mining area. The work is expected to be finished shortly and both companies are hoping to recoup some of their losses by selling the plant and other equipment.

The project has yielded 8,500 carats of diamonds, for gross proceeds of $2.1 million, since exploration began in 1993.

Elsewhere in the country, United Reef is indirectly involved in the Ndassima gold project through its 22% equity interest in property owner Asquith Resources (asqh-c). Asquith is following up a showing of banded iron formation that averaged 1.9 grams gold per tonne over 3 metres. The showing occurs in an area where gold-bearing sediments have been found in streams.

Trans Hex, meanwhile, is focusing on an alluvial diamond project on the northern bank of the Orange River in Namibia. The company holds a 50% interest in the Block 9 property, which covers a 3-km-by-10-km strip of the riverbank, where a trenching program is planned to assess the potential of a paleochannel that branches off the present river (T.N.M., Mar.9-15/98).


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