“When all of South Africa’s gold mining industry players are confronted with the hugely negative impact of the strong Rand on their revenues and costs, our timing with this low capex, low working cost project could not have been better,” says Divisional Director of DRD’s SA Operations, Deon van der Mescht.
The slimes dam reclamation project is one of eight initiatives at Blyvoor forming part of DRD’s company-wide “Project Boost”, launched late in 2002 to reduce operational risk, lower unit costs, ensure consistent production and increase ore reserves.
The Project Boost initiatives at Blyvoor, together with the mine’s own longer term Blyvoor Expansion Programme (BEP), are delivering ‘consummate’ results, according to van der Mescht. Together, they account for most of the growth in Blyvoor’s reserves, from 3 million ounces to 5.8 million ounces since 2001 and the increase in its life of mine from nine to 22 years over the same period.
Production for the slimes dam reclamation project, van der Mescht says, will help to maintain Blyvoor’s gold production profile of around 675 kg a month going forward, compensating for declines resulting from the recent depletion of surface rock dump material.
The slimes dam reclamation project, started in June 2003 and commissioned on schedule and within budget, involves the reclamation of some 24 million tons of slimes material, at a rate of 240 000 tons a month, by high pressure water jetting from the mine’s 50-year old Nos 4 and 5 Slimes Dams, at an average grade of 0.587 grams per ton.
Blyvoor’s existing carbon-in-pulp (CIP) plant has undergone extensive renovation in order to treat the slimes material via a new carbon-in leach (CIL) circuit. The new CIL circuit, treating slimes material, will run in parallel with the older CIP circuit, treating underground ore.
New technology in the plant – specifically the Kemix Reactor Process – is expected to deliver both improved gold recoveries and lower costs. At the mine’s No 6 Slimes Dam, which has been extended to accommodate retreated slimes from the project, cyclones have been installed to make for faster deposition, a reduced footprint and greater stability.
Environmental considerations have been a key focus of the project. Amendments to Blyvoor’s Environmental Management Programme have had to be made by management, working with appropriate consultants, and approved by the relevant regulators. The Nos 4 and 5 Slimes Dams, once cleared, will liberate nearly 100 hectares of rehabilitated land for possible redevelopment. Provision for ongoing rehabilitation of the No 6 Slimes Dam over its life as a deposition site will be a priority.
The project has significant growth potential. There is the possibility of sourcing additional slimes material in the vicinity of Blyvoor and throughput could be ramped up by some 30% without significant additional infrastructure, van der Mescht says.
Note : A relevant PowerPoint presentation and a selection of captioned photographs depicting aspects of the slimes dam reclamation project in jpeg format are available on the DRD website, www.durbans.com, www.drd.co.za
Ilja Graulich, Durban Roodepoort Deep, Limited
+27 11 381 7826 (office)
+27 83 604 0820 (mobile)
James Duncan, Russell & Associates
+27 11 880 3924 (office)
+27 82 892 8052 (mobile)
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