Cape Town financial institution Cadiz Corporate Solutions is spearheading the raising of US$70m to start two mining projects – one surface and one underground – at the Blyvooruitzicht (Blyvoor) gold mine near Carletonville.
The projects are being undertaken by private company Blyvoor Gold – the new name for Randlord Capital – the shelf company through which brothers Dane and Bastiat Viljoen acquired control of the assets of the mine which was in provisional liquidation.
The Viljoens have teamed up with mining entrepreneur Peter Skeat who is now the chairman of Blyvoor Gold.
The proposal to resurrect Blyvoor is surprising given the mine’s chequered history but Cadiz mining consultant Peter Major has come out solidly behind the projects. He told Miningmx, “I don’t see any fatal flaw here unless it is undercapitalization. I really think this is going to fly.”
Previous owner DRDGold threw in the towel on Blyvoor and sold it to Bernard Swanepoel’s Village Main Reef (VMR) in 2011 but VMR stopped mining operations and put Blyvoor into provisional liquidation in July 2013.
The mine was subsequently invaded by illegal miners who did considerable damage to the surface plant but, crucially, were not able to get into the underground workings at No 5 shaft which is where the new proposed underground project will be focused. The other two shafts on the mine are controlled by AngloGold Ashanti which pumps water from them.
This is the third such “gold resurrection” project to be backed by Skeat in the past ten years but, ironically, most of the benefits from the first two – Ergo and Galaxy Gold – have accrued to other parties.
In 2006 Skeat teamed up with ASX-listed Mintails to redevelop Anglo American’s mothballed Ergo dump retreatment scheme near Springs. Mintails subsequently got into serious financial problems with the result that partner DRDGold ended up gradually buying 100% control of Ergo which is now DRDGold’s mainstay. The DRDGold share price has shot up six-fold over the past year.
After leaving Ergo, Skeat bought the mothballed Agnes mine near Barberton in 2008 and set about developing it as Galaxy Gold. A proposed JSE listing fell through because of a technical issue over the company’s BEE status and Skeat also got involved in a dispute with the other shareholders.
In April last year Skeat sold Galaxy to TSX-listed Galane Gold and the Galane share price rocketed from five Canadian cents to 18 Canadian cents as a result. Galane is now investing US$2m to restart operations at Galaxy.
Skeat told Miningmx, “the Blyvoor plant was semi-destroyed. All the wiring and motors are gone. Anything that had copper in it is gone but the best shaft on the whole mine – 5 shaft – was successfully protected by the security people .”
Some $20m is needed for the surface treatment project which will be based on Blyvoor’s 140 million ton (mt) Samrec compliant resource of surface tailings dumps containing an estimated 1.3moz of gold. Initial production would be at a rate of about 18,000oz of gold annually.
Some $50m is required for the underground project which will be based on a 28moz Samrec-compliant resource from which initial production will be 50,000oz/year rising to 100,000oz/year after year three.
The first eight years of underground mining operations will be at shallow levels above the depth of 1,500m at which the workings are flooded. The water is maintained at that level through the pumping carried out by AngloGold to protect its adjacent Savuka mine.
Skeat commented, “we will mine the easy stuff first and in due course take on the pumping required to open up deeper workings which will give us another 20 years of life.”
Aside from raising the necessary capital the main outstanding requirement is obtaining Section 11 approval for the title transfer from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). According to Skeat the DMR has given assurances that permission will be granted by Christmas this year meaning both projects could be up and running by June next year.
Assuming the mine starts up as planned it will provide employment for some 1,000 miners compared with the 5,000 who used to work there. According to Major that is a big advantage. “Those guys will be starting from scratch. They can employ workers as they need them. The mine will not be overstaffed.”