Wits Gold has appointed Turgis Consulting and MDM Engineering to complete the final feasibility study at the company’s shallow De Bron-Merriespruit project in the southern Free State goldfield, South Africa. Turgis will be responsible for the detailed engineering and mine designs, while MDM will focus on the metallurgical plant and related design aspects. The study is slated for completion during the third quarter of 2013. Turgis recently completed the positive prefeasibility study (PFS) for the project, which confirmed that a mine at De Bron-Merriespruit was both technically and economically viable.
The PFS delineated a probable gold reserve of 23.5 million mt at a grade of 4.1 g/mt gold (3.1 million oz), which is contained within that portion of the resource that occurs at depths shallower than 1,000 m.
De Bron-Merriespruit will be a shallow underground mine comprising a planned twin-shaft system to 660 m depth, with gold production expected to average 200,000 oz/y over an 18-year life of mine. Production is expected to peak at 246,777oz at 5.5 g/mt during year nine, and first gold production is expected 47 months after shaft sinking begins.
The PFS estimates production cash costs of $628/oz, with peak capital funding of ZAR2.37 billion ($296 million at ZAR8/US$).
The feasibility study will further refine certain aspects identified in the PFS that will aim to improve mining efficiencies by introducing safer, semi-mechanized mining equipment and down-dip mining methodologies. Further upside also exists through investigation of the inclusion, through additional drilling, of the existing shallow inferred resources of 5.97 million mt at 5.7 g/mt gold (1.1 million oz) that are readily mineable from the current mine design.
On February 22, 2012, South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources accepted Wits Gold’s application for a Mining Right for gold, silver, and uranium over its advanced Prospecting Rights areas in the southern Free State goldfield, which include the De Bron-Merriespruit, Bloemhoek, Robijn and Hakkies project areas. The granting of the Mining Right is expected in the second half of 2013, once the company complies with requirements in terms of the Minerals Act, such as obligations in terms of feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments, and Social and Labour Plan commitments. Once granted, a Mining Right is valid for a period of 30 years and renewable for a further period as required.