JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Surface gold mining company DRDGold on Wednesday reported a 54% fall in operating profit to R102.2-million in the six months to December 31, but a major jump in mineral reserves.
Reserves shot up by 83% to six-million ounces of gold from a former 3.28-million ounces but gold production in the period was 3% lower at 2 280 kg, reflecting a 2% decline in overall throughput to 12 004 000 t and a slight decline in the overall average yield to 0.190 g/t.
A higher rand gold price helped to offset the impact of lower gold production and sales, resulting in total revenue being virtually unchanged at R1 252.5-million, while total cash operating costs were 9% higher at R1 168.8-million.
Expenditure on environmental protection rose 28% and externally sourced potable water usage was 31% lower.
Operating and financial information from the Far West Gold Recoveries project was included for the first time.
DRDGold lost 49 kg of gold production in the first half of the year from power supply disruptions.
DRDGold CEO Niël Pretorius says that while the company avoided the labour- and safety-related issues impacting other producers, it was not spared the challenges of distressed power utility Eskom.
Far West Gold Recoveries throughput was 140 000 t but at Ergo on the East Rand outage-hit throughput was down 3% to 11 864 000 t. Ergo’s three new projects have all been implemented successfully.
Internal back-up electricity generation capacity assisted in getting production going immediately after power was restored, containing losses to an extent, Pretorius says.
Mining Weekly Online can report that reclamation of the 4L50 dump, part of the Elsburg Tailings Complex, is fully operational; conversion of the Brakpan plant from elution to zinc precipitation in the final stage of gold extraction is resulting in the expected improvement in efficiencies; and the two ball mills relocated to Brakpan from Crown have been commissioned, allowing for the retreatment of higher-grade sand reserves.
Far West Gold Recoveries’ Driefontein 5 reclamation site has been commissioned, the Driefontein 2 plant completed and the upgrading of the Driefontein 4 tailings dam is on track for completion by the end of March.
Consequently, all indications are that Phase 1 will be fully commissioned during the first half of calendar year 2019.
Pretorius expressed sorrow at having to report the death of Ergo electrical foreman Lareon Cloete, who passed away from injuries sustained in an incident during routine maintenance of an Ergo-serving Eskom substation.
Gold production of between 148 000 oz and 154 000 oz is expected from Ergo for the full 12 months to end June, when the group expects to produce between 157 000 oz and 165 000 oz at a cash operating cost of R500 000/kg.