The Kloof main
shaft complex
Johannesburg, South Africa — 25 April 2012 – Gold Fields Limited’s Kloof-Driefontein complex (KDC) on the Gauteng West Rand in South Africa “’ which is one of the country’s largest gold producers “’ will be exhausted by 2028.

Revealing this, Miningmx reports that a year ago, it was still estimated that the huge gold mine would continue until 2040, but according to the group’s latest annual reserves estimate, about a quarter of the reserves in the complex have been removed from the mine plan.
The reserves are gold that can be mined profitably at the current gold price after allowance is made for the capital expenditure. Reserves removed from the mine plan can therefore, according to Gold Fields, not be mined profitably at the current cost structures.

The sharp fall in the reserves of the KDC complex, despite the higher gold price, is in line with the trend at other South African gold mines which, in the midst of a gold bull market, are also rationalising on a large scale because they are struggling to produce profitably, the reserves estimate adds.

The result is that the country’s remaining gold mines are “fading” much faster than gold is being removed from underground, it says.

Driefontein and the neighbouring Kloof mine were amalgamated in 2010 to form KDC, and the operations were rationalised to a large degree. However, the amalgamation to a certain extent disguised the fact that Driefontein “’ previously regarded as Gold Fields’ major long-term resource “’ was rapidly deteriorating. Now virtually all the ore underneath Driefontein’s existing infrastructure has been removed from the mine plan – an indication that this ore can no longer be mined profitably, the report explains.

The underground gold reserves of Driefontein – now known as KDC West – were reduced in the year from 11.85 to just over 6.38Moz. The underground reserves of the old Kloof mine – now KDC East – were reduced from 7.94 to 6.95Moz.

Gold Fields spokesman Sven Lunsche told Sake24 at the time of a provisional reserves estimate earlier in the year these reserves could be included in the mine plans later again.

Apart from KDC, Gold Fields has an attractive and growing portfolio of mines elsewhere in the world, but the deterioration of giant mines like this has serious consequences for employment in the sector as well as for the mines’ role as input consumers.

According to the report issued this week, employment at the two KDC mines fell by one-fifth, from 33,500 to 26,700 between 2009 and 2011.

The gold-mining industry currently still employs about 150,000 people.

Source: Miningmx. For more information, click here.