Harmony closes Joel temporarily

[miningmx.com] — HARMONY Gold Mining Company could lose up to 261kg in gold production during the current September quarter because of repairs being carried out on the North Shaft at Joel mine in the Free State.

Operations at Joel were halted at the end of June to complete work at the bottom of the North Shaft, and the workforce has been sent on leave until August 10.

Joel has two shaft systems but the South Shaft is used only for men and material while the North Shaft is used to haul all the ore from the mine workings to surface.

Harmony CEO Graham Briggs said: “We anticipate that the shaft will be operating again during August 2010, once repairs to the shaft bottom have been completed.

“In the interim, the Joel plant will be processing waste to maximise gold production.

“Joel’s gold production during the June quarter will be marginally affected by this decision, but we anticipate that gold production for the September 2010 quarter at Joel will possibly be halved.

“However, we have teams working around the clock to resolve the situation as soon as possible.’

Joel produced 522kg of gold in the March quarter, sharply down on the 591kg produced in the December quarter. Briggs said in his March quarterly review published in mid-May that the drop in production at Joel was due to “hoisting limitations’.

In the March quarter Joel accounted for 6% of the total 8,807kg of gold Harmony produced from its underground operations in South Africa. Harmony’s total gold production in the March quarter amounted to 10,366kg.

Briggs said in a statement released on Thursday that “the production focus at Joel has over time been shifting to the deeper portions of the mine, at approximately 1,400m below surface.

“The North Shaft was never fully equipped for production and we have therefore made extensive changes to the bottom of the shaft arrangements.

“Operations at the shaft, however, had to be halted at the end of June 2010 to complete the bottom of the shaft spillage arrangements.

“A mutual decision was taken by the Department of Mineral Resources and management to stop operations at the shaft until the shaft bottom is cleared from the spillage and more permanent arrangements are put into place.’