The South Africa-focused mineral explorer and developer White Rivers Exploration (WRE) has defined a JORC 2012 compliant gold resource of 11.5 Moz at 8.89 g/t for the project in the Witwatersrand which is 65% owned by WRE, the largest tenement holder in the Witwatersrand Basin, and 35% owned by Harmony Gold, South Africa’s third largest gold miner.
Based on the defined resource, an independent scoping study has been completed to determine mining rates from different shafts, annual gold production and the overall mine plan.
The results of the study show very impressive economic returns with gold recovery exceeding 6.68 Moz over the 30+ year mine life from the measured, indicated and inferred resources.
The JV project covers a 9.56 km² area directly abutting Harmony Gold’s operating Target mine.
The gold resource is contained within the JV area and a 1 km surrounding buffer zone which attracts a Net Smelter Royalty payable to Harmony Gold.
The JV project’s close proximity to Harmony Gold’s Target mine provides direct access to existing infrastructure, thereby limiting capital funding required and facilitating a fast-track development resulting in a pay-back of less than four years.
Mining will target multiple high grade gold reefs at depths from 1 100 m to 2 200 m below surface over the 30+ year mine life at a production rate of between 250 000 oz to 300 000 oz of gold per annum.
The JV project is also highly prospective for uranium.
Neil Warburton, Executive Chairman of WRE, comments: “This defined JORC resource demonstrates that WRE and Harmony Gold are sitting on one of the world’s largest unmined high grade gold resources, with huge upside potential.
By utilising Harmony Gold’s neighbouring Target mine infrastructure, including existing shafts, ventilation systems and tailings dams, gold production from the project can be fast-tracked and operating and capital expenditure required by the JV partners reduced significantly.
“The initial resources to be mined in Phase 1 are already accessible from previous underground development and lie between 1 100 m to 1 600 m below surface,” says Warburton.
“We are proceeding with a full prefeasibility study and intend to seek in 2017 a dual listing on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges to facilitate the commercialisation of this very substantial resource,” he concludes.
According to Harmony Gold
Harmony Gold says that only once the project’s prefeasibility study has been completed, will the resources be included in its resource statement.
“It is still very early days for the Harmony/White Rivers joint venture project. We will keep our shareholders informed about reliable numbers once all studies have been completed”, says Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony.