Modern Mining

The inaugural gold pour has taken place at the R1,7 billion Elikhulu tailings retreatment project in Evander, Mpumalanga, witnessed by several dignitaries including Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Elikhulu pours its first gold

The Elikhulu Tailings Retreatment Plant (photo: Arthur Tassell).

Speaking at the inaugural gold pour ceremony, Pan African Resources CEO Cobus Loots said: “The completion of Elikhulu’s construction and the inaugural gold pour, ahead of schedule and in line with the project budget, is a further significant milestone as we deliver into our strategy of repositioning the Group as a low-cost, long-life gold producer.

“Elikhulu is delivering much needed new employment opportunities and is an economic boost for our local communities and for South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province.

“The professional way in which the project was executed, delivering into all milestones in a safe and sustainable manner, again demonstrates our team’s ability to conceptualise, plan and complete very substantial growth projects,” he continued.

“We expect Elikhulu to be a flagship operation within our low-cost, long-life asset base, and we will continue to focus on improving and expanding our portfolio in a sustainable manner to the benefit of all stakeholders.”

     The first gold pour at Elikhulu (photo: Pan African).

Loots said the capex of R1,7 billion was way below earlier estimates of R2,5 to R3 billion. He also noted that the project had been completed in a remarkably short time of under a year and said that an Australian delegation who had recently visited Elikhulu had said that a project of this magnitude in Australia would have taken at least three years to build.

The project’s commissioning phase is scheduled to be completed in September 2018, with steady-state production of approximately 55 000 oz of gold per annum, at an all-in sustaining production cost of between US$650/oz and US$700/oz.

As previously announced by Pan African, the incorporation into Elikhulu of the Evander Tailings Retreatment Plant (ETRP), which has a tailings throughput of 200 000 tonnes per month, is on track and scheduled for completion in December 2018, after which the enlarged Elikhulu plant is forecast to process 1,2 million tonnes per month of tailings for an annual gold production of approximately 70 000 oz of gold per annum.

Elikhulu’s construction phase employed as many as 1 769 people and will directly employ more than 350 permanent employees and contractors during its operational life of 14 years. More than R162 million was paid as preferential procurement to community contractors for services rendered during the construction phase.

Construction of the Elikhulu project entailed establishing facilities and infrastructure at Evander Gold Mining (Proprietary) Limited, owned and operated by Pan African Resources, to retreat historic gold plant tailings at a rate of 1 million tonnes per month. The definitive feasibility study on the project was undertaken by DRA Projects SA Proprietary Limited (DRA), which is the engineering, processing and construction contractor to the project.

Three existing tailings storage facilities will be reclaimed, in the following order: Kinross, Leslie and Winkelhaak. The three tailing facilities will, after processing, be consolidated into a single enlarged Kinross facility, thus reducing Evander Mines’ environmental footprint and associated environmental impact.

The mineral reserve estimate is a probable 185,3 Mt, comprised of the Kinross (45,2 Mt), Leslie (70,1 Mt) and Winkelhaak (70 Mt) tailings storage facilities at Evander Mines. The combined mineral reserve contains an estimated 1,7 million ounces, of which an estimated 688 000 ounces will be recovered over the life of the project. This estimate excludes the inferred resource of 244 398 ounces of gold leached and contained in the soil beneath the existing tailing dumps, which could potentially increase the project life.

The mineral reserve estimate assumes a non-selective mining method whereby the whole of the mineral deposit is mined in a predetermined sequence. The mining method allows for complete extraction of the targeted mineral deposit. Hydraulic mining has been selected as the mining method as it is a proven technology, cost effective and technically and operationally well understood.

The low-cost, long-life Elikhulu project is expected to reduce the Group’s average all-in cost of production.

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