Amidst criticism over its deep-level mining plans, junior miner Wits Gold chairperson Adam Fleming on Friday said that about 40% of its resources was actually relatively shallow in Witwatersrand terms and that the company had a number of exciting near-term projects ongoing.
Speaking at the company's annual general meeting, in Johannesburg, Fleming said that this percentage of resources was in line with the depths at which some other major companies were mining in the Witwatersrand area.
The company would focus on six projects at these relatively shallow depths, with the deeper resources to become part of its longer-term plans.
"In due course, we will have some exciting movements and projects that will [deliver] higher value than market-value inferred resources," commented Fleming.
Meanwhile, Wits Gold CEO Marc Watchorn added that there were few large gold-deposits still being discovered worldwide and that it was just a matter of time before people started to look to South Africa again for gold resources.
Watchorn explained that 40-million ounces of the resources owned by the company was situated up to 2 500 m underground, with the balance at deeper levels of between 2 500 m and 5 000 m.
He noted that the average gold mine in the Witwatersrand area was about 2 000 m deep.
Wits Gold would focus on the four projects in the Southern Free State, one in Klerskdorp, and one in Potchefstroom, with four drill rigs already on site at the Free State projects.
Meanwhile, a scoping study undertaken at the Bloemhoek operation, in Southern Free State had shown that the company could produce 380 000 oz/y from the operation, at a capital cost of $1-billion.
However, it would take eight years before the operation could scale up to full production.
A prefeasibility study was now investigating how this could be brought forward.
In the meantime, Watchorn remained positive about the Bloemhoek operation, saying that Bloemhoek alone could underpin the company's market cap.
Further, Watchorn said that the Kromdraai operation in the Klerksdorp area was another of its priority projects as it was a potential deep exploration area. Drilling would start at the operation within the next quarter.