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OVERVIEW

Mining Feasibility studies are exploring new gold projects.

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iamonds, coal and gold are the main minerals found in the Free State but the decline of gold mining is a cause for concern. Several summits and a Mining Indaba have focussed on what kind of economic activity can replace gold mining. However, Sibanye-Stillwater is bucking the trend with the investigation of a possible new project next to its existing Beatrix mine. Gold prices rose appreciably during the Covid-19 pandemic. The mining sector makes up 11% of provincial GDP. A minerals beneficiation strategy has been developed because this is a key area for potential growth.

Beatrix gold mine. Image: Sibanye Stillwater The Free State Provincial Government announced in February 2020 the creation of a company that will manufacture mining equipment, to be called Newco. Small mining companies have been promised technical support and with health and safety and access to beneficiation opportunities. Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix mine, with a life-of-mine projected to 2025, produced 196 698 ounces of gold in 2019. Beatrix also holds 26.97-million pounds of uranium resources. Mining rights to the Southern Free State project adjacent to Beatrix have been approved and a feasibility study on part of it, the Bloemhoek decline, was done in 2019. The company reported that the Southern Free State property had surface and underground gold reserves of 2.1-million oz and mineral resources of 8.2-million oz. AngloGold Ashanti has sold most of its assets to Harmony Gold. Most of the mines are in the North West Province, but the Great Noligwa and Kopanang mines are in the Free State. The complex includes one uranium plant, four gold plants and one sulphuric acid plant.

Online Resources Minerals Council South Africa: www.mineralscouncil.org.za National Department of Mineral Resources: www.dmr.gov.za South African Mining Development Association: www.samda.co.za

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Sector Insight A new equipment manufacturer is planned for Welkom. These assets increased H a r m o n y ’s u n d e r g r o u n d resource base in South Africa by nearly 40%. The mines include Tshipong and Phakisa (near Odendaalsrus), Virginia, Target (near Allanridge), Masimong (Riebeeckstad), Joel (near Theunissen) and Bambanani at Welkom. Phakisa has mineral reserves of just over five-million ounces of gold and Harmony has invested heavily in the project. Gold mines in the Free State also supply a substantial portion of the total silver produced in the country, and large concentrations of uranium occurring in the gold-bearing conglomerates of the goldfields are extracted as a by-product. Petra Diamonds’ Koffiefontein mine is on the western edge of the province, about 80km from Kimberley. The Voorspoed mine of De Beers Consolidated Mines closed in 2018. Coal is mostly found in the northern part of the Free State. The Sigma-Mookraal mine is run by Sasol Mining and has the capacity to supply Sasol Infrachem in Sasolburg with two-million tons of coal per year. Seriti Resources has purchased the New Vaal Colliery from Anglo American. ■

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Free State Business 2021  

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