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Gordon Miller, CEO, Simmer & Jack Mines and First Uranium Corp.Gordon Miller, CEO, Simmer & Jack Mines and First Uranium Corporation.

Simmers closes gold mine deal

Allan Seccombe | Thu, 20 Oct 2005 20:00
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[] -- Simmer & Jack Mines brought the curtain down on its prolonged bid for Buffelsfontein gold mine after South African courts approved the purchase on Thursday.

DRDGOLD had placed the mining shafts into liquidation seven months ago. Now, under Simmer & Jack Mines' ownership, the Buffelsfontein shafts plan to produce 230,000 oz/year in six months time, said CEO Gordon Miller.

During a court process transferring the ownership of the liquidated Buffelsfontein operations to Simmer from DRDGOLD’s creditors, there was unanimous approval for the scheme of arrangement, Miller said.

“Simmers is now the proud owner of Buffelsfontein Gold Mining Company. This is it and we start up underground operations tomorrow,” Miller told Miningmx.

“We are absolutely ecstatic. I think the community at large is going to be relieved because it has been a very difficult process since March 22,” he said.

DRDGOLD put the embattled operation into liquidation seven months ago after an earthquake killed two workers and injured 20 more.

“We felt that we could not take the risk after the earthquake and financial losses, so put we put the operations into liquidation, but we’ve always been supportive of anyone taking over the operation,” said Ilja Graulich, DRDGOLD spokesman.

“This is a good moment. Simmer & Jack taking over the operations has been supported by creditors, including us, and other parties. There is a relief.”

DRDGOLD has no more financial obligation towards the mine, he said.
Simmers is now the proud owner of Buffelsfontein Gold Mining Company
DRDGOLD paid R105m to the minerals and energy department in rehabilitation provisions. There are no historical liabilities relating to dewatering the mine, he said.

More than 6,000 workers were out of work, a crippling blow for the small mining town of Stilfontein northwest of Johannesburg. However, Simmer plans to employ 3,800 people from the community and has already been training its workforce.

Simmer & Jack Mines is currently producing about 6,000 oz/month from surface operations at the mining complex.

A directive from the Department of Water and Forestry Affairs has substituted Simmer & Jack Mines for DRDGOLD in a three-way agreement with AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold. The three companies will continue to foot the R3m/month dewatering cost.

Organised labour welcomed the outcome, but could not resist a dig at DRDGOLD.

“At last the people of Stilfontein can face the world again, return to work and regain their economic independence. It is a pity that these people had to suffer hardship for seven months due to DRDGold’s selfish actions and weak administrative processes,” said Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans.

“It will take months, if not years, before the people are properly back on their feet, but at least more than 3,000 Stilfontein families will begin to earn an income again from tomorrow,” he said.

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