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Gold mine reopens using ex-illegal zama-zamas as workforce

JOHANNESBURG – Gold mining company Birrell Mining International has reopened the recently acquired Bosveld Mining’s Klipwal gold mine in KwaZulu-Natal, the company said on Monday.

Birrell completed the purchase of Bosveld Mines from Stonewall Mining earlier this year, after having been responsible for the care-and-maintenance programme since early 2016.

The transaction retains the black economic empowerment (BEE) ownership structure of 26% being owned by predominantly community-based BEE partners.

Under the chairmanship of Graham Briggs, the former CEO of Harmony Gold, the Birrrell board approved the transaction following reviews of resource and operational potential across the mine, which provides an ideal platform for further underground development.

Production began last month after results indicated stable production at reasonable grades with good levels of recovery.

An experienced management team, headed by Tony Knight, will allow rapid expansion under Briggs’ guidance.

The expansion will include deeper level underground mining and development, as well as the recommissioning of lower levels from July 2017 onward.

Of critical importance is the operations’ management of the illegal mining activity in recent months, which had plagued the safety and future viability of the Klipwal underground workings.

Owing to the high levels of illegal activity at Klipwal, it was decided to make use of the local former illegal miners as the main workforce, within strict safety regulations and managerial control and adherence to legislative requirements around contractor employment.

The former illegal zama-zamas, which have formed cooperatives, are contracted as legal personnel to complete hand-lashing and tramming within portions of the mine that are rendered safe by the company.

The cooperatives are remunerated on each ton lashed and trammed to a collection point.

“This method has had a profound effect on several levels. The operation reverts to mining methodologies of several years ago and the cooperatives are paid according to their production levels. Management and control is now relatively easy as the cooperatives are motivated and self-disciplined,” Briggs said in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

Bosveld has a long-term target production of between 12 000 oz and 15 000 oz of gold a year.

Source : Mining Weekly