PERTH (miningweekly.com) - South Africa-focused Gold One on Friday said it would integrate the recently acquired Ezulwini Mining Company into its Cooke Underground operations, to unlock the project’s uranium potential.
Gold One recently concluded the $70-million acquisition of Ezulwini from TSX- and JSE-listed First Uranium.
“It is extremely satisfying for me to see yet another key component of our strategy coming together in such a short time,” said Gold One president and CEO Neal Froneman.
He noted that with the operating team’s extensive knowledge of both the Cooke and the Ezulwini projects, Gold One was well placed to exploit the synergies across the complex and integrate the Ezulwini operation into the Cooke Underground operation.
“A comprehensive turnaround programme will be implemented at Ezulwini to enhance revenue and reduce costs, much like the turnaround programmes that have already been implemented at the Cooke Underground and Randfontein Surface operations,” said Froneman.
He added that a turnaround team for the Ezulwini project had already been appointed, and a high-level analysis phase had been initiated. The team’s current focus was on implementing common services, which Froneman said was a key component in realising the synergies across the Cooke shafts, Ezulwini and the Randfontein operation.
He added that with access to Ezulwini’s gold and uranium processing facility, Gold One could look towards unlocking the full value of its underground uranium resources across the Cooke complex.
“In the near-term, the company can also begin capitalising on a gold and uranium co-product strategy as certain sections of Cooke 2, Cooke 3 and Ezulwini have significant uranium resources present in unmined ground, as well as in a number of high-tonnage pillars.”
Froneman said that a reconnaissance of the underground area had found the development area to be in good condition, although apart from the rail tracks, all other infrastructure had been removed and would need to be reinstalled.
A study compiled in 2009 on the combined gold and uranium opportunities at the Cooke shafts was currently being reviewed, and would be completed during the December quarter.
Furthermore, a capital programme to recommission the Ezulwini uranium plant, which was currently on care and maintenance, has also been initiated. The recommissioning was scheduled for the March quarter of next year.
Froneman said that the capital spend would take place over two phases, with the first R15-million investment supporting a 50 000 t/m module, while the second phase would see the commissioning of the plant at an additional R22-million.
Ore would initially be trucked to Ezulwini until permanent transport arrangements had been made. Gold One would be undertaking a detailed study to investigate transport alternatives, and this would be completed by the end of the year.