JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Wits Gold is pleased to announce that the Company has successfully completed an initial three borehole geotechnical drilling programme for the positioning of shafts at its advanced DBM Project in the southern Free State goldfield. Drilling commenced during October 2012 and was completed on time and budget, with a total of 1918 meters of diamond core drilled at a cost of R2.4 million.
This drilling programme, as part of the DBM final Feasibility Study, aimed to obtain geotechnical data with respect to underground conditions through which the shafts would traverse, as well as to detect possible hazardous flammable gas and water occurrences.
All objectives of the drilling programme were achieved, as summarised below:
The first borehole (DWN 35) intersected the Leader Reef within 12 metres of its subcrop against the Karoo Unconformity, accurately locating the position of the subcrop.
The Main and Ventilation shaft locations could therefore be optimally positioned beyond the subcrop in order for the shaft pillar areas not to sterilise any of the shallow Mineral Reserve.
The two subsequent boreholes were then drilled at the proposed shaft positions to depths greater than the planned shaft bottoms of 660 metres below surface. Independent specialist geotechnical studies conducted during this drilling found that rock conditions range from very good to fair, implying that normal shaft sinking rates can be applied.
None of the boreholes drilled encountered flammable gas or a significant influx of water.
Drilling activities by Wits Gold at the DBM Project have been conducted under the supervision of Mr Dirk Muntingh, the Company's Qualified Person and Exploration Manager and who has verified the contents of this news release. Mr Muntingh (M.Sc Geology) is a registered Pr.Sci.Nat with SACNASP and has over 20 years of experience in gold exploration.
Surface geotechnical studies are currently underway for plant infrastructure establishment, while environmental studies continue on schedule in terms of the requirements of the Company's accepted Mining Rights Application. Detailed design on shafts and related infrastructure at the DBM Project is on track to take place towards mid-2013, while mine development is expected to commence during the 1st half of 2014.
Wits Gold CEO Philip Kotze said: "The successful outcome of this current drilling program continues to highlight the merits of developing a mine at DBM, where it is anticipated to create more than 1 000 new employment opportunities for people in the region. Our new development, along with the Company's anticipated social and labour plan commitments in terms of its Mining Right Application, will give a new lease of life to this renowned gold mining district."
Background to the DBM Project
The DBM Project area comprises a triangular block measuring some 22km², located between the main Welkom goldfield to the north and the Beatrix and Joel gold mines to the south, which are operated by Gold Fields and Harmony respectively. The DBM Project area contains four gold bearing conglomerates. These comprise the Beatrix, Kalkoenkrans, B and Leader Reefs, all of which occur at the relatively shallow depths of between 480m and 1 250m below surface and which are all well understood as a result of previous mining within the regional area.
Following the completion of the Pre-feasibility Study (PFS) in July 2012, Wits Gold announced that international consultant Royal Haskoning DHV (RHDHV) and MDM Engineering (MDM) were appointed to complete the final Feasibility Study for the DBM Project. RHDHV will be responsible for the detailed mine and associated infrastructure designs, while MDM will focus on the metallurgical plant and related design aspects. The detailed Study is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2013.
DBM will be a shallow underground mine comprising a vertical twin shaft system to 660 metres, with average gold production expected to be 200 000oz/year over an 18 year life-of-mine. Production is expected to peak at 246 777oz at 5.5g/t during year nine, and first gold production is expected 47 months after shaft sinking commences. The PFS estimates production cash costs of US$628/oz with peak capital funding of ZAR2.37 billion (US$296 million at ZAR8/US$). At a gold price of ZAR R400 000/kg (US$1 555/oz & ZAR8/US$), DBM has a pre-tax NPV(5%) of ZAR7.3 billion (US$909 million) and an IRR of 28.0%. The Feasibility Study will further refine certain aspects identified in the PFS that will aim to improve mining efficiencies by introducing safer, semi-mechanised mining equipment and down-dip mining methodologies. The PFS showed that the semi-mechanised option increases IRR to 30.9% (at the above prices) and the pre-tax NPV (5%) to ZAR 10.2 billion (US$1.3 billion).
For more detailed information on the results of the PFS, please consult the Wits Gold website at www.witsgold.com. The Technical Report on the PFS by Turgis, dated 26 July 2012 is available on the Wits Gold website and at www.sedar.com . The PFS was completed under the guidelines of the South African Code for Reporting of Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves ("SAMREC Code") as well as the Canadian National Instrument 43-101, and was undertaken by the independent consultants, Jim Pooley and Jon Hudson ("the Qualified/Competent Persons"), from Turgis Mining Consultants ("Turgis") and independent of Wits Gold. These independent Qualified/Competent Persons have approved the technical contents of the news release pertaining to the PFS results.
SOURCE Wits Gold