Charlotte Mathews has written an interesting article about Graham Briggs, the former CE of Harmony , and his new ventures. See A new approach to gold: published on 15 June 2017 in the Financial Mail [subscription required]. Instead of shunning the ‘illegal miners’ their services as independent contractors have been engaged. This is an excerpt from the article:
One of the more unusual aspects of Klipwal is that BMI is using the former illegal miners, or zama zamas, as its workforce, organised into co-operatives of about 10 people each who will be paid on tonnages delivered to the plant. Klipwal management will be responsible for ensuring they adhere to safety standards, including using proper supports. About 60 of them come from the local communities, in a desperately poor area where the money is badly needed. They will receive training once drilling and blasting begins, likely to be later this year, Briggs says.
Further excerpts from the article
The current owners of SA’s mines need to take a totally different approach to managing mines and orebodies and empowerment, he says. If they can’t do that, they must let others own those assets.
At smaller mining companies, it is quicker to make the difficult decisions, he says.
BMI has two main projects. It is raising about R50m from private investors to refurbish the old Klipwal gold mine, and has secured a licence to rehabilitate the old Bulembu (formerly Havelock) chrysotile (white asbestos) mine in Swaziland, which closed in 2001.
In the process of rehabilitating it, BMI will recover magnesium and nickel.
. . . . .
Klipwal is an old mine which has had numerous owners over the past 20 years, but none made much profit out of it. It has been invaded by illegal miners, five of whom were killed last year after a rockfall.
Briggs says the plan is to bring the mine back up to production of about 15,000oz of gold a year at a cost of about $800/oz. It would be small but profitable at current gold prices.
Surprisingly, an estimated 70,000-80,000t of mined material with a grade of about 3g/t is lying underground and can be processed at the existing plant at low cost.
Briggs says previous owners may have left it behind because of production bottlenecks arising from trying to mine on multiple levels. The mine has about 13 levels and is about 500m deep. There is probably potential to deepen it further, as the lower levels were not well developed, Briggs says.