Vantage Goldfields, which has been bought out by Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC), hopes to resume production at the Barbrook mine, in Mpumalanga, by early 2019.
Both Barbrook and Vantage’s adjacent Lily mine were closed after a pillar collapse at Lily mine, in February 2016, claimed the lives of three employees, putting financial strain on Vantage.
SSC earlier this month said it would restart operations at Lily mine in February 2019.
Meanwhile, internal planning and risk assessments are being undertaken before the Barbrook mine restarts production.
The planning entails the recruitment of appropriate staff, getting infrastructure ready, while the risk assessment entails impediments to a speedy and safe production start-up, including the state of electrical reticulation, the state of equipment left underground, ore flow infrastructure and dewatering.
Additionally, before production at Barbrook can restart, SSC will finalise community engagement, permits, training, system reviews and procedures reviews.
“We should be ready to start production in three to five months from October. Our plan is to access Barbrook’s early production in the form of vamping and sweeping first, to gain a better understanding of the underground workings and sinking of the access decline will follow,” SSC CEO Fred Arendse told Mining Weekly Online.
Further, he expects the company will appoint a contractor and start clearing for the decline at the Lily mine during November.
The access decline will be a brand new decline to access working levels well below the collapsed area of the mine. The decline will start from a newly developed portal and will be separated from old workings.
The decline will be about 300 m long. The portal will take between three and four months to complete, with the decline itself taking a further five to six months to complete. The raise boring and establishment of the second outlet will take an additional three to four months.
In addition to the access decline being done before reopening the Lily mine, other priorities include readying auxiliary infrastructure and refurbishing equipment.
“Thorough inspection of all the working areas, to ensure safe re-entry of personnel, is on top of our priority list,” said Arendse.
Meanwhile, he assured that the container in which the three deceased employees were trapped will be retrieved once an informed assessment has been made after sinking the new access decline.
SSC will collaborate with the Department of Mineral Resources, unions, community representatives, family representatives, and technical engineering and safety experts to determine the best manner for retrieving the container, if technically possible and without putting any more lives at risks.
Arendse further noted that it is part of the company’s future strategy to list either the group or the mining resources, on the JSE; however, market appetite and the company’s value proposition will determine the timing thereof.
In terms of updated mineral resource estimates, Arendse remarked the priority is to work from the established resources, since it has at least a five-year window of certainty. “Naturally as we progress, and production stabilizes, we will spare some focus to exploration, to get a better definition on medium- and long-term production targets.”