DRDGold’s Ergo
retreatment project
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 04 February 2009 – DRDGold Limited – the fourth-largest gold producer in Africa – continues to buy assets from its cash-strapped ASX-listed partner, and has now extended its involvement from Mintails’ East Rand operations to the West Rand.

Mintails announced in its December quarterly report released last week that DRDGold had bought a 50% stake in the Witfontein deposition site on the West Rand for R20 million.

In December, DRDGold CEO Neil Pretorius was cagey when asked about future deals between the two, saying it would depend on what Mintails did on the West Rand, and that there were no immediate plans for a greater consolidation of the businesses.

Bloomberg News reports that this seems to have changed, with DRDGold buying into Mintails’ vision of a consolidation of retreatment operations on the West Rand.

Pretorius added that DRDGold was keen to secure a site for the deposition of tailings material that could be retreated from its Blyvooruitzicht mine near Carletonville. A number of groups are either setting up or evaluating projects to retreat slimes dams in the region to recover gold and uranium. Apart from Mintails and DRDGold, they include Rand Uranium/Harmony, First Uranium/Simmer and Jack, Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti.

Fundamental to any of these projects is the acquisition of a site where the hundreds of millions of tonnes of material to be retreated from the various slimes dams can be re-deposited in an environmentally acceptable manner.

“Witfontein is a good site and it makes strategic sense to us to acquire the deposition site and then work backwards to the plant and the resource,” Pretorius said.

“I believe there is a good likelihood that the permit for Witfontein will be granted,” he concluded. “ If it is not, I would point out that the property has considerable salvage value which reduces the risk to our shareholders on the investment.”