Gold mining company Harmony’s portfolio of operations is “a tribute to its commitment to complex underground mining in South Africa” and the most stringent of safety measures are required to offset the risks that accompany this complexity, the company stated in its safety fact sheet, which was released last month.
“Harmony‘s highest priority is the safety of our people, so this critical aspect of the business is addressed by our layered risk management approach.”
The risk management approach consists of four stages with the level of risk decreasing with each stage.
The first stage is called baseline, where major hazards and significant unwanted events are identified and understood. The second stage is called issue-based, where key controls are identified, designed, monitored and managed effectively.
Task-based, is the third stage and focuses on hazards related to nonroutine tasks that are assessed and managed with a step-by-step action plan.
In the last stage – continuous – the routine tasks are assessed through ‘stop, look, assess and manage’ and safe declaration. This safety awareness is embedded in all employees and is the responsibility of all.
Further, for a safer working environment in deep-level hard rock mines, Harmony contributes to fundamental research programmes conducted by the University of Pretoria and the Institute of Mine Seismology into specific rock engineering and seismological issues.
According to the fact sheet, Harmony is guided by principles that ensure that safety is built into everything it does. These principles are based on policies and practices that are aligned to the Mine Health and Safety Act; critical control management consistent with the International Council on Mining and Metals’ guidelines and principles; and contributions to discourse and the implementation of leading practices through the Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health Community of Practice adoption process.
Harmony Gold CEO Peter Steenkamp tells Mining Weekly that illegal mining has been a risk to the mining industry for several decades and, given the severity of the threat, Harmony has focused on rehabilitating decommissioned shafts that are linked to ingress by illegal mineworkers for the past two years.
“Our rehabilitation strategy aims to reduce our environmental footprint through concurrent and final rehabilitation, thereby reducing our environmental liability, mitigating the risk of illegal mining and meeting the commitments made in our environmental management programme. This has helped to ensure the safety and security of our employees.”
Further, Steenkamp notes that sustainable development is woven into Harmony’s organisational business processes and practices.
Environmentally, the company has reduced its carbon emissions, initiated pioneering rehabilitation processes and effected zero water discharge at many of its operations, while linking its Papua New Guinea operation to hydropower.
Steenkamp adds that, over the next five years, Harmony aims to improve delivery on key sustainable development indicators and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal targets.
Harmony acquired the Mponeng gold mine, as well as other South African assets, including the Mine Waste Solutions (MWS) company, from gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti, last month.
This acquisition enhances Harmony’s near-term production, lifting its yearly gold production by about 350 000 oz and consolidating its position as a leading gold producer in South Africa, states Steenkamp.
“As with most of our assets acquired from AngloGold Ashanti, Mponeng and MWS are a natural, strategic fit with Harmony’s current asset base.”
The acquisition provides multiple opportunities for Harmony to optimise the operational performance of its newly acquired assets, realise synergies and increase cash flow and earnings a share at current gold prices.
“Over the past two years, Harmony has added over 500 000 oz of quality gold a year through the acquisition of Moab Khotsong and now Mponeng and MWS. The acquisition has the potential to improve our overall recovered grade and increase our cash flow margins,” adds Steenkamp.
He notes that Harmony has demonstrated its ability to increase the lives of mines it operates in South Africa – sustaining the mine communities surrounding the mining operations, preserving jobs and further unlocking value for its shareholders through improved grades and stronger margins.
The acquisition of openpit mining operation Hidden Valley, in Papua New Guinea, and uranium mining operation Moab Khotsong from AngloGold Ashanti in March 2018, and now Mponeng and MWS, will help Harmony to become a 1.8-million-ounce producer, he adds.
“These assets have contributed significantly to our operational free cash flow and improved the quality of our asset portfolio,” Steenkamp concludes.