ASX- and JSE-listed Gold One International on Friday celebrated the official launch of its R100-million plant expansion project at the Modder East operations in Springs.
Gold One Operations VP Jon Hericourt said the bankable feasibility study for the mine had expected it to produce 70 000 t/m, producing just over a million ounces over a nine-year life, with the mine initially designed to close next year.
“Fortunately . . . the story has unfolded somewhat differently, mainly owing to the hard work of management and the Modder East employees.”
He explained that, while the original plan had been to mine the high-grade core surrounded by lower-grade “aura”, the company has now shifted its plans to also mine the lower-grade ore, with plant capacity to increase from its current maximum of 90 000 t/m to 120 000 t/m.
Hericourt stressed that management had not waited for the inevitable closure of the mine and rather set out to adapt the company’s strategy to accommodate the mining of the lower-grade resource economically.
“Through driving productivity, efficiencies, cost control and developing new and novel methods to safely extract ore . . . we can now economically target the lower-grade resources on the UK9A and Basal reefs, as well as other secondary reefs.”
Upgrading of rock handling methods to support higher plant capacity is already under way, with the mine’s production increasing from about 4 000 t/d to about 5 500 t/d.
The metallurgical plant was designed in-house and construction was fully managed by an in-house team.
Gold One metallurgical manager Mike Phillips, assisted by metallurgical consultant Alan Phillips, has managed all aspects of the detailed design of the project. The project was budgeted at R106-million, but Hericourt noted that, if things continue apace, the project should come in R6-million under budget.
The project will comprise the full refurbishment of a large semiautogenous grinding mill, the construction of a new thickener, as well as two carbon-in-leach plants.
Hericourt commented that, although the expansion project would not create new job opportunities, it would enable current employees to retain their jobs.
“Integral to Gold One’s future is developing new projects that can continue to fill the plant long after mining at Modder East has come to an end,” he added.
Ekurhuleni acting mayor Desmond Breytenbach, meanwhile, urged Gold One to consider more than just profit and enable meaningful community participation. He also suggested that Gold One consider beneficiation.
Gold One Group chairperson Jiju Yuan noted that Modder East contributed R1.1-billion in tax revenue, and another R48-million to public welfare initiatives.
He added that the expansion project extended the life of the mine for an additional ten years, adding that Gold One is willing to cooperate with the South African mining sector because it believes that, “the friendship and fruitful relationship between China and South Africa is eternal.”
Meanwhile, Vice Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Johannesburg Guo Bing noted that this year marked the twentieth anniversary of China’s ties with South Africa.
He added that the R106-million investment, which comes at a time when South Africa has been battling a technical recession, demonstrates Chinese sentiment that the South African industry is moving toward a period of renewed confidence.