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South Deep reaffirms its rebase plan for long-term production – Engineering News

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sashnee Moodley: Gold mining major Gold Fields has reinforced its rebase plan for its South Deep mine with renewed focus being put into safety, production and mechanisation. ylan Slater tells us more.

Dylan Slater:
The South Deep mine, at a current depth of 2.9 kilometres, poses unique and somewhat unprecedented challenges, thereby allowing Gold Fields to forge the way in terms ofdeep-level mining in the west of Gauteng.

At such depths, safety related to seismic activity is an issue which is exacerbated in the Westonaria and Calrtonville region which was, and currently is, a gold mining hotspot with an extensive network of operational and abandoned underground workings.

The vast number, and subsequent volume of such underground voids leads to an increasing number of seismic events.

To reduce the number and impact of seismicity in the South Deep mine, Gold Fields is using a distressing mining method coupled with an updated pillar design – methods of which are significantly reducing the number of seismic events, thereby mitigating risk to underground operations and improving personnel safety. South Deep vice-president Adriaan de Beer explains further

South Deep VP Adriaan de Beer

Dylan Slater:
Gold Fields has also outlined a more robust long-term plan, paving the way with a gradual, but steady, ramp up in production, thereby homing in on refined profit margins and ensuring South Deep can be mined for longer at greater efficiency.

A major cornerstone in this plan to boost life-of-mine is Gold Fields’ target of steadily ramping-down production of its so-called “Current Mine” and the North of Wrench mining area. Both of these areas are situated north of the Wrench fault-line, and will, after 2052, be completely obsolete in terms of production.

Starting in about 2030, the first of the new mining area will begin a rapid ramp-up in production. This new area comprises two mining areas south of the Wrench Fault – the South of Wrench West and South of Wrench East. Over time, the South of Wrench West will become the major mining area for South Deep. It is envisaged that this area will result in the production of more than 20 tonnes of gold a year and eventually taking sole gold production towards 2094.

South Deep VP Adriaan de Beer

Dylan Slater:

South Deep has also reinvented itself in the deep-level mechanized arena with the building of an extensive underground maintenance, repair and rebuilding facility to service the bulk of its fleet.

This workshop has the capacity to conduct scheduled servicing of fleet ngines and equipment. It also extends to washing, dismantling and stripping of machinery. Overhauling procedures, including sandblasting, welding, reassembly and respraying of machinery will be done in this workshop.

Complete overhauling can be performed using overhead cranes and below-vehicle pits for inspection, all of which is supported by a underground parts department, which is stocked with about R40-million worth of high-demand parts, including hydraulics, prop shafts, differentials and service sundries.

Adriaan explains more about how the workshop impacts economics at South Deep

South Deep VP Adriaan de Beer

Dylan Slater:
South Deep is also ramping-up its use of backfill as mining progresses

South Deep VP Adriaan de Beer
 

Dylan Slater:
South Deep plans to focus on increasing production this year, as well as enhancing safety at the mine. Adriaan runs us through short term goals for the remainder of the year

South Deep VP Adriaan de Beer
 

Sashnee Moodley:
Other news making headlines this week:
South African in the Mars mix as race to the Red Planet heats up

The next space race has started with the launch of the largest-ever interplanetary space rocket and spaceship carrying four carefully selected astronauts on a mission to establish a human settlement on Mars – a planet that is about 225-million kilometres away.
Theoretical physicist Adriana Marais
 

Sashnee Moodley:
That’s Creamer Media’s Real Economy Report. Join us again next week for more news and insight into South Africa’s real economy. 


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