SA News

Disused mine buildings and mine access structures at Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine Disused mine buildings and mine access structures at Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

Ransacked Gold Mine Venture Reboots

Written by  Kevin Crowley Tuesday, 11 April 2017 17:32
Rate this item
(0 votes)

South African mining veteran Peter Skeat is pressing ahead with plans to squeeze more gold out of an 80-year-old ransacked gold mine west of Johannesburg after settling a dispute with three former partners.

 

The entrepreneur, who is part-financing the venture himself, is seeking investors to help fund a revised development plan at the Blyvooruitzicht mine after receiving a 30-year mining right for the operation on April 6.

Skeat, 63, plans to spend as much as $100 million rebuilding Blyvooruitzicht. While the mine was once among the world’s top producers, its recent history has been tumultuous. The site was overrun by illegal miners and equipment looted after it was abandoned by the previous owners in 2013.

That’s not deterring Skeat, who says there are still 27 million ounces of gold resources left to be extracted, including about 1 million contained in massive pillars left behind to support shafts during the mine’s early development. Those alone, which the entrepreneur calls his “ace card,” could be mined at low cost for a decade, he said.

Blyvoor “has been through some hard times, but we’re confident in our plan to get this producing at the lowest cost for any underground mine” in South Africa, Skeat said. The support structures contain relatively high grade ore and can be mined because they’re redundant, he said.

The mine was placed in liquidation in 2013, costing about 1,700 workers their jobs and the site fell into ruins. When Skeat bought the mine in 2015, he teamed up with brothers Bastiat and Dane Viljoen and another director, Karel Potgieter. The group planned to focus initially on reprocessing old waste dumps before the relationship soured. The dispute about scrap metal sales has now been settled and the three directors have left the venture.

 

At an average of about 13 grams per ton of gold, about three times higher than a typical South African gold mine, Skeat says he can produce some 100,000 ounces a year from the pillars at all-in-sustaining costs of $600 an ounce. Gold has climbed almost 10 percent this year and traded at $1,256.82 an ounce by 8:16 a.m. in London.

Aging Asset

 

Reviving Blyvooruitzicht won’t be easy, according to Ferdi Dippenaar, who said he mined pillars when he was chief executive officer of Village Main Reef Ltd., the last operator. “It’s old infrastructure, a lot of maintenance, with a lot of seismic activity,” he said in a phone interview. Intensive mining can increase the likelihood of seismic events. “If you’re mining remnant pillars in old areas, it’s always going to be difficult,” he said.

Another concern is the environmental risks posed by such an old mine, according to Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, a local community organization. While the FSE is not opposed to Skeat’s plan, it wants more detail on how water will be used and its quality controlled, and has voiced concerns over where waste material will be dumped in the long term, Liefferink said by email.

Blyvooruitzicht, which means Happy Prospect in Dutch, was one of the world’s biggest and most profitable gold mines in the 1950s and 1960s, according to “Golden Age,” a 1968 book chronicling South Africa’s mining industry. It is situated in the heart of South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin, which has produced almost half of the world’s gold.

MINING

It’s all about the money

The hazardous mining by-product raises two questions – who’s to blame and who should pay. The acid mine drainage crisis is going to cost someone a lot of money, but probably not the people who caused it. The “polluter pays” principle was next to impossible to apply to the acid mine drainage problem in a retrospective way, said Marius Keet, chief director for mine water management at the department of water and sanitation.

Down in the dumps, there's hope

"WHERE there's waste, there's opportunity," said mining hydrologist Kym Morton, ...

Fokus reports on Coal Mine east of Springs

SABC's Fokus of 23 July 2017 addresses the planned Palmietkuilen coal mine east ...

SA NEWS

Addressing waste and pollution of the past

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment is proud to announce the launch of the booklet titled “Rehabilitation of Mine Contaminated Eco-Systems. A Contribution to a Just Transition to a Low Carbon Economy to Combat Unemployment and Climate Change” by Mariette Liefferink of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE). The booklet was commissioned by the Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) in collaboration with the Friedrick Ebert Stiftung.

Nuwe myn ‘sal duisende hul huise kos’

Byna 10 000 mense sal verskuif moet word as Anglo Operations Ltd en Canyon Coal hul sin kry om ’n massiewe oopgroefsteenkoolmyn oos van Springs te begin.

SA coal mines leave legacy of ruin

Johannesburg - A 19-month data investigation of mine closures indicates that since at least 2011 no large coal mines operating in South Africa have been granted closure.

Besoedelingklagte: Mynbase daag nie by hof op

Drie direkteure van die Blyvooruitzicht- en Village Main Reef-goudmyn buite ­Carletonville kan ’n boete van tot R10 miljoen of tien jaar tronkstraf opgelê word weens die beweerde besoedeling en agteruitgang van die omgewing.

WATER

Coalition defending Mpumalanga water source area

Last week, the coalition of eight civil society and community organisations that has been resisting the proposed coal mine inside a protected area and strategic water source area in Mpumalanga launched further proceedings in the Pretoria High Court.

Project to heal polluted river . System will·create stream·of jobs

THE POTENTIAL to create 100 climate jobs and to help : bring a "dead river syste...

'Mine Water can be treated, safe'

SOUTH Africans have to "change their mindsets" that they can't drink acid mine d...