A giant goldfield
A giant goldfield in South Africa’s Eastern Goldfields is reawakening.
Theta Gold Mines Limited controls 74% of East Transvaal Goldfield, where South Africa’s gold mining industry began almost 130 years ago. And we’re bringing open pit mining to this large and historical underground mining goldfield.
The Transvaal Gold System sits geological on the eastern side of Bushveld Complex the largest igneous intrusion on earth (Figure 1).
The permitted gold plant is near the towns of Pilgrim’s Rest and Sabie in Mpumalanga Province, 370km northeast of Johannesburg. The tenements are held by Transvaal Gold Mining Estate Limited (TGME), South Africa first incorporate gold mining company, which was founded in 1895. The regional project is know as TGME Project in honour of it historical roots and importance to South Africa’s gold Industry. The local project Theta Hill Open Cut sits within the TGME Project.
The TGME Project has more than 43 historical mines identified across the vast prospective goldfield of 620 km2. In the last 3 years the mineral resourc (JORC 2012) has double through systematic exploration. The Resource now stands at 44.7Mt @ 4.18 g/t Au for 6 Moz (including open-cut resources of 13.08Mt @ 3.12g/t Au for 1.3Moz). The mines consist of shallow, adit entry underground or potential open-cut gold
Global Resource increased to 6Moz Au (44.8Mt @ 4.18g/t Au):
- 1.3Moz open cut resources (13.08Mt @ 3.12g/t Au)
- 4.5Moz underground resources (26.3Mt @ 5.4g/t Au)
Latest resources announcement may be viewed/downloaded from below ASX link:
Table 1: 6 Million Ounces of Gold Resources JORC(2012)
When you look around the world, it’s rare – in size and nature – and to have vertical and horizontal reef systems. It’s either two different gold systems or one giant system. Either way the potential is exciting. We’re yet to find a geologically similar gold deposit, globally.
Here, because of the geometry of the reefs, nearly every square inch of that ground has some exploration potential. We have an entire goldfield to explore with ready-made targets, and most importantly, 6Moz existing resources as a base.
The company has already delivered three resource upgrades and the Theta Project Feasibility Study (FS). The FS shows strong project economics. It also confirms what we believed; that the historical underground mines could sustain open cut mining. We now have exploration model that can be used across the 43 historical mines under our management.
Each gold cycle, the Western Australia gold industry has successful exploited the historical old workings left by the old miners. Across its entire history, this cycle of development and exploration has never happened in the East Transvaal Goldfield.
Theta Gold Mines owns 74% of the TGME Project, with the other 26% held by a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) entity. In this case, the BEE group consists of several different parties, all of which have been with the company since inception.
A number of insignificant gold deposits were discovered in the northern parts of South Africa between 1840 and 1870. The first gold rush in South Africa took place in 1873 when payable gold was discovered on the farm Geelhoutboom near the town of Sabie approximately 35 km from Pilgrims Rest and in September 1873 Pilgrims Rest was officially proclaimed a goldfield.
The gold that the early diggers targeted was alluvial gold – mainly gold dust recovered by washing the gravel from the beds and banks of streams but nuggets were also found. The largest recorded nugget from the Pilgrims Rest area was the Breda Nugget, weighing in at 214 oz (more than 6 kg).
Early prospectors in the Sabie-Pilgrims Rest Goldfield successfully traced sub-crops of the different reef horizons along strike where they were not obscured by slumped strata, although mining continued from the 1880s until 1972.
The TGME Project portfolio has more than 43 historical mines across the large tenement area of 62,000 hectares. In addition to the 6 Moz in resources, the area has a number of underexplored old mines and shallow exploration targets containing gold-bearing ore left over from almost a century of mining. Over 6.7Moz was recovered historically (Figure 2), and we believe a lot more than that can be found in the tenements.
We believe much of this can be accessed by reopening existing shallow-angle haulages and adits, or in some cases, open-cut mining of the upper gold reefs near surface.
Historically, the region was so rich in resources and easy targets that when mining became difficult, the early miners just left to pursue other areas. Over a century later, modern mining techniques and high-powered machinery for open-cut, combined with accurate laser surveying, resource modelling and modern processing technology will allow us to explore and develop these old prospects and mines.
In addition to these well defined and low-risk targets, the Company also has the benefit of owning an existing carbon in leach (CIL) treatment plant built in the 1980’s. We intend to refurbish and add new components to expand the plant to enable rapid ramp-up of production across the whole project.
Our past focus was on underground mining. However, the latest strategy is to delineate high grade open cut resources, which have a lower risk profile, as they are faster to develop than underground deposits and less capital intensive.
Figure 2: Existing tenements and historic production records