JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Greenfield exploration drilling has restarted at the Target North prospect in the Free State, which Covid-19 temporarily halted, Harmony Gold CEO Peter Steenkamp told Mining Weekly on Tuesday.
Speaking during a Zoom interview after presenting an outstanding set of dividend-yielding financial results, Steenkamp said the greenfield exploration had to date achieved three intersections and that a second drilling rig had been commissioned.
“We’ve started with the second rig to firm up on the orebody there and in time we’ll come back to the market to tell the market what we have found there,” he said. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
Harmony is also engaged in brownfield exploration at Kalgold, where the Johannesburg- and New York-listed company already has an opencast mine.
Harmony has in the past expressed the view that the Target North exploration area hosts high gold grades in the area above the massives of the Ventersburg Contact Reef (VCR), which has yielded large volumes of gold over the years.
SURFACE TAILINGS AND DUMPS
Regarding surface mining opportunities, Harmony told investment analysts and the media that the company is now the holder of what is thought to be the world’s largest tailings and dump resources.
Flashed on to screens was a slide showing a doubling of the surface contribution to gold production in the last few years.
With the acquisition of Mine Waste Solutions from AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony inherited substantial surface retreatment and waste rock dump treatment facilities.
“We're happy with what we’ve got and we think there’s potential to expand, because we still have plants that through optimisation we can free up to do more tailings retreatment. We’re currently in a process of planning, so we can become quite a big in the treatment of slimes dams and waste rock,” said Steenkamp.
Harmony, with considerable experience of successful shaft pillar removals over many years, has begun shaft pillar mining at its Tau Lekoa gold mine in Orkney, in the North West.
“The potential is really in both Savuka and Tau Tona pillars, both on the Carbon Leader Reef and also on the VCR. Attempts have been made before but with our knowledge about how to manage seismic risk, we may be in a position to mine that. It’s in a study phase at this point in time but we also have, below infrastructure, quite a lot of ounces in the ground,” Steenkamp said.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Harmony’s Wafi-Golpu copper/gold project in Papua New Guinea, which is still at the permitting stage, is providing the prospect of Harmony becoming a producer of copper as well as gold at time when the world is heading for a shortage of copper supply and copper prices are very buoyant.
Steenkamp expressed the wish that Harmony was already involved in copper production but took another step towards co-producing copper when the Wafi-Golpu project obtained its environmental licence in December from the Papua New Guinean authorities.
“That’s quite a big step in licensing this mine. As we speak at the moment, our team is meeting up with the Prime Minister.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll get traction because we receiving a lot of good positive indications out of Papua New guinea, but we’ve still got a long way to go. It’s not possible for me to say when we will start. Is it a year, is it a year and a half or is it six months,” Steenkamp told Mining Weekly.