Sibanye Gold has increased its gold mineral reserves by 9% to 31 Moz from 28.4 Moz in 2014 despite the depletion of 1.6 Moz from mining activities during 2015.

This is the third consecutive annual increase in gold mineral reserves.

This announced is part of Sibanye‘s updated Group Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves report, declared as at 31 December 2015 where the company also provided updates on new projects in its portfolio.

Further Sibanye report highlights

  • Uranium Mineral Reserves for the Group increased by 11% to 113.8 Mlb, with a maiden Mineral Reserve declared at Beatrix’s Beisa project;
  • Gold Mineral Reserves at the underground operations increased by 0.7 Moz (4%) to 20.2 Moz, net of depletion in 2015, following:
    • optimisation of two significant underground growth projects at Beatrix (Beisa project) and Driefontein (Depth Extension project);
    • continued assessment of previously unmined areas (“white areas”) for safe, economic extraction, resulting in additional 1.1 Moz of gold Mineral Reserves; and
    • the secondary reef exploration programme at Kloof and Driefontein which contributed an additional 0.4 Moz to gold Mineral Reserves.
  • A maiden gold Mineral Reserve of 1.8 Moz has been declared at the Burnstone project, following completion of the detailed feasibility study, and the subsequent commencement of the project development phase.
  • As per SEC guidelines, Mineral Reserves were declared at approximately the historic two to three year average commodity prices. Gold Mineral Reserves were declared at R430 000/kg and gold Mineral Resources at R470 000/kg, a 10% premium. This is substantially lower than the average rand gold price for the year to date.

New projects review

A maiden gold Mineral Reserve of 1.8 Moz was declared at Sibanye‘s Burnstone project, following the completion of a Feasibility Study (FS). The project envisages steady state production of between 100 000 oz and 120 000 oz per annum from 2021 over a 20 year LOM

The West Rand Tailings Retreatment Project (WRTRP) will process the historical tailings storage facilities of the Driefontein, Kloof and Cooke operations for gold and uranium.

A FS for this project has been completed and detailed engineering design is currently being undertaken in parallel with the environmental permitting processes. The project has an estimated gold and uranium Mineral Reserve of 6.5 Moz and 99.1 Mlb, respectively.

Gold Mineral Reserves of 2.1Moz for the De Bron, Merriespruit project are based on the original feasibility study previously conducted by Royal HaskoningDHV in 2013.

However, the production design and schedule was modified during 2015 in line with enhanced geological and estimation models, with the extraction plan optimized in line with new cut-off grades.

The Bloemhoek project, which is adjacent to Beatrix North operation, contains Mineral Resources of 4.3 Moz. A study to access a portion of this area with a decline system from Beatrix North has commenced, and is due for completion in 2016.

Concurrently, an exploration programme designed to improve geological confidence in the immediate vicinity of the planned decline system will also be completed.

Mineral Reserves and Resources

The Beatrix operation is a low-cost, high productivity asset with a life of mine (LoM) extending to 2029, with 9.6 Moz gold and 27 Mlb uranium Mineral Resources. The underground production is supplemented by processing of historical rock dumps, with an estimated gold Mineral Reserve 0.1 Moz.

Gold Mineral Reserves increased by 18% to 4.3 Moz net of production depletion in 2015 due to an extended life at Beatrix West and South, due to the inclusion of white areas. In addition, a maiden 0.5 Moz gold Mineral Reserve and 11.7 Mlb uranium Mineral Reserve has been declared at the Beisa project.

The Driefontein operation is a high-yield, medium to long-term operation with gold Mineral Resources of 19.8 Moz and gold Mineral Reserves of 8.2 Moz and a LoM extending to 2042, following the inclusion of the 2.1Moz below infrastructure decline project at number 5 Shaft.

The underground production is supplemented by processing of an estimated 0.1 Moz of gold Mineral Reserves contained in historical rock dumps. The gold Mineral Reserves increased by 11% net of depletion from the previous year, mainly due to the extension of the area accessible through the Driefontein 5 Shaft below infrastructure project.

This will provide access to an additional 2.1 Moz, with first production scheduled in 2024, as well as previously excluded secondary reefs and white areas at 8 Shaft which are able to be economically and safely extracted.

The Kloof operation is a high-yield medium to long-term operation, with gold Mineral Resources of 28.2 Moz and gold Mineral Reserves of 6.5 Moz. The Kloof operation LoM has been extended by three years to 2033, following the inclusion of the below infrastructure project at number 4 Shaft, which will provide access to an additional 0.5 Moz gold Mineral Reserve, and is scheduled for first gold production by 2021.

The underground production is supplemented by processing of historical rock dumps with an estimated gold Mineral Resource of 0.2 Moz. The Mineral Reserves decreased by 5% year-on-year, with production depletion partly offset by additional Mineral Reserves from secondary reefs and white areas.

The Cooke operation is a short- to medium-term asset, producing both gold and uranium. The current LoM is estimated to extend to 2023. The operation has gold Mineral Resources of approximately 15.9 Moz and gold Mineral Reserves of 1.5 Moz.

Uranium Mineral Resources at the operation are 68.4 Mlb and the uranium Mineral Reserves 3.1 Mlb. The gold and uranium Mineral Reserves have decreased year-on-year, mainly due to an increase in the pay limit, as well as the suspension of exploration development.

The underground production is supplemented by processing of historical tailings storage facilities (containing an estimated gold Mineral Reserve of 0.1 Moz).