Preparing to keep top producer spot in S Africa

The Great Noligwa mine was added to the Moab Khotsong operation in 2014, where uranium is produced as a by-product of gold production

MANAGING OPERATIONS The Great Noligwa mine was added to the Moab Khotsong operation in 2014, where uranium is produced as a by-product of gold production

7th April 2017

By: Robyn Wilkinson

Features Reporter


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Gold producer AngloGold Ashanti has recommissioned a section of its Mine Waste Solutions operation, located in Stilfontein, in the North West, to maintain its current uranium production levels in anticipation of potential future upturns in the international market.

The recommissioned uranium plant is already in production and is expected to reach full capacity by the end of the year to enable AngloGold Ashanti to offset the potential loss of production at its Great Noligwa mine, which is reaching its end of life. This will enable the company to maintain its current production levels of about one-million pounds of uranium, produced jointly as a by-product of primary gold production from its Vaal River underground operations in the Free State – Moab Khotsong, Kopanang and Great Noligwa.

This is despite AngloGold Ashanti group communications VP Chris Nthite pointing out that the international uranium market, which AngloGold Ashanti supplies with yellowcake processed at its Nufcor calcinating facility, 50 km south-west of Johannesburg, is in oversupply, owing partly to reduced yellowcake demand in key regions.

Demand in Japan has decreased significantly as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, in which insufficient cooling led to three nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air chemical explosions and the release of radioactive material in three units. All nuclear production in the country was temporarily suspended following the incident and only a fraction of Japan’s nuclear plants is back on stream.

Germany has also announced that it will not extend the lives of its existing nuclear facilities and demand growth in China and India has been slowed. Interest in renewable energy sources is, moreover, growing, with the cost of building a nuclear facility having exponentially increased worldwide, owing to the safety requirements in place following the Fukushima incident.

“Meanwhile, on the supply side, the triuranium octoxide market is literally swamped with consistent, low-cost production from Kazakhstan, which is still able to generate profits at the current price of $25.50/lb,” says Nthite.

AngloGold Ashanti is South Africa’s largest uranium producer and is fully compliant with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Regulator Act, with permits to possess, process and export radioactive material.

Socioeconomic Development Initiatives
AngloGold Ashanti strives to go beyond simply complying with the laws and regulations under South Africa’s Mining Charter to make a sustainable impact in its host communities of Matlosana, in the North West, Merafong, in Gauteng, and the OR Tambo district municipality, in the Eastern Cape.

Last year, the company completed the delivery of its social and labour plan from 2010 to 2014, during which time R267-million was spent on community development, including infrastructure, enterprise and community human resource developments, as well as support for welfare organisations.

Further projects include the renovation and building of schools, with additional classrooms, libraries and science and computer laboratories, supported by its School Enrichment Programme that capacitates the leadership of schools and the district offices of the Department of Basic Education in the affected communities. In addition, the company has assisted with the creation of community parks, recreational facilities and enterprise development parks.

AngloGold Ashanti has also supported income-generating projects aimed at benefiting youth and women in particular, and has made headway in managing youth unemployment by offering assistance to secure internships, learnerships, further education bursaries, including nursing, and skills development in trades such as plumbing and building.

The company’s social and institutional development fund also assists primarily nongovernmental organisations in addressing the critical social and institutional challenges as identified in the United Nations’ 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals and government’s priority areas of education, health and poverty alleviation.

Edited by Tracy Hancock
Creamer Media Contributing Editor



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