The first gold-bearing quartz veins in Namibia were discovered in the Rehoboth district in the Sinclair sequence volcanogenic host rock as early as 1899. During the pegging boom of 1933 and 1934, many prospects opened up and exploited, but all were later closed down, mainly due to the low and erratic grade of the mineralisation. Most recently however, Namibia gold production received a new boost.
The Navachab gold deposit was discovered as a result of a geochemical exploration program in October 1984, during exploration for carbonate-hosted gold deposits area. It was discovered on the farm Navachab, 6 km south of the main Okahandja-Swakopmund tar road. Karibib is in the main railway line and the power to the mine is drawn from nearby SWAWEK 260 kV power line.
An appraisal was carried in 1986 and followed by feasibility study in 1987, after which a decision was made to proceed with the development of a mine. Construction work began in 1988 and the first gold bar was poured only 21 month later in December 1989, establishing Namibia as one of the gold producing countries in the world.
The mine was completed at a capital cost of N$ 85 million. The plant was commissioned in November, with full production being achieved in January 1990.
The 35 metre-thick ore body is hosted in a thick marble unit. The ore body dips at 70' to the west and plunges at 14' to the north and it is mined by open-cast method to a depth of over 200 metres. The ore body is estimated to contain 10.4 million tones of ore with average grade of 2.3 grams of gold per ton and a further 6.5 million tones of marginal ore with an average grade of 0.66 grams per ton. It was originally anticipated, that the life of mine would be in the region of 13 years. It envisaged that an increase in the milling to 840 000 tones per annum may be possible which will allow a decrease in the planned head feed grade. The carbon-in-pulp process recovers 85% of gold. After C.I.P. extraction, elution and smelting the unrefined bullion is sold to Switzerland, where it is refined.