In the media

West Rand ‘Ergo’ steps forward as MDM awarded scoping study

26 March 2012

Source: Mining Weekly online

By: Martin Creamer

JOHANNESBURG ( – The potential for a second Ergo, this time on the West Rand, took another step forward on Monday when engineering group MDM
announced that it had been awarded the scoping study contract for the Gold One/Gold Fields joint venture (JV) project.

The JV’s aim is to recover nine-million ounces of gold and 130-million pounds of uranium from 700-million surface tons that represent some 60% of the total tailings on the West
Rand. The proposed project has all the hallmarks of the trailblazing Ergo, which was commissioned in 1977 and which continues to recover residual gold from the slimes of old
East Rand mine workings.

London Aim-quoted mining-focused project management company MDM said Gold One and Gold Fields intended to investigate the economic viability of jointly reclaiming historical
tailings deposits and concurrently reprocessing current arisings at a number of sites within the Carletonville, Westonaria and Randfontein areas of the Witwatersrand, west of Johannesburg.
Their intent was to extract residual gold, uranium and sulphur, while addressing mine closure in an environmentally sustainable manner and the deposition of residues according to acceptable modern deposition practices.

MDM said it had also been appointed by Gold One to do a definitive feasibility study review, value engineering and re-estimation of the capital cost for the Cooke Uranium Project.
It would also update Gold One’s previous Randfontein tailings prefeasibility study and advance it to a definitive one. MDM executive director George Bennett noted further that his company would be able to bring the experience from the bankable feasibility study it had completed for Gold Fields in 2010.

Recent experience on First Uranium's Ezulwini and Mine Waste Solutions' projects also positioned the company for this latest assignment. Gold Fields said earlier that it regarded the project as a relatively low-risk opportunity to extract value not yet inherent in its share price. The gold major said that the 475.6-million tons of tailings that it owned on the West Rand contained 4.5-million ounces of gold and 53.6-million pounds of uranium. Gold One said that it had a similar amount of gold (4.5-million ounces) and “a lot more uranium” in a reserve it estimated contained 80-million pounds of the energy mineral. The company, which currently processed some 300 000 t/m of tailings through its Cooke gold plant in Randfontein, said it was also at an advanced stage of planning for the building of a uranium metallurgical plant to treat the Cooke tailings.

The detailed scoping study, scheduled for completion by June, would be the first item on the JV’s agenda. Gold Fields has a newly built site on which material left over after reprocessing is
deposited, and Gold One is developing the Geluksdal redeposition site closeby.“We’re also very much aligned with Gold Fields on the environmental standards required for sustainable tailings deposits,” Gold One CEO Neal Froneman has told Mining Weekly Online. Gold One is also assessing the potential treatment of several other surface tailings deposits that formed part of the acquired Rand Uranium’s mining and prospecting licences.

Gold Fields produces 3.5-million gold equivalent ounces a year from eight operating mines, and Gold One, in which the Chinese Baiyin NonFerrous, the China-Africa Development Fund and Long March Capital are the majority shareholders, last year produced 123 000 oz from its flagship Modder East operation. It is unlikely that the other large source of West Rand tailings belonging to gold major AngloGold Ashanti will be combined with that of Gold Fields and Gold One as AngloGold is known to be studying on its own plans for the material.

Full release (PDF)

Register for alerts

  • E-mail:
  • Remove me