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Tailings retreatment plant construction progressing

A large patch of land being cleared to make way for the construction of a tailing re treatment plant being constructed for Pan African Resources at its Mintails operations

FROM THE GROUND UP The foundation phase of the Mogale tailings retreatment plant at Mintails is progressing according to schedule and within budget

24th November 2023

By: Halima Frost

Senior Writer

     

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The construction of midtier gold producer Pan African Resources’ Mogale tailings retreatment (MTR) plant at the Mintails site, on the West Rand of Gauteng, is progressing according to schedule and within budget.

“This is Pan African's fourth large-scale tailings plant in a project that is scheduled to be fully commissioned by December 2024,” says Pan African Resources investor relations head Hethen Hira.

The laying of the foundation for the bases of the first four leach tanks of the MTR plant – at the site which will house nine such tanks – was started last month. The tanks will process the pumped tailings slurry through various stages and will be processed using carbon leaching prior to elution and smelting in the gold plant and smelthouse.

Hira adds that the MTR project was initiated following the acquisition of the properties by Pan African Resources in October 2022.

The MTR plant will produce about 50 000 oz of gold a year over an expected 20-year period.

The project, which started in July, with ground clearing and preliminary earthworks, will cost an estimated R2.5-billion to complete.

“This money has been secured upfront through a sustainability bond, and loans and facilities from South African banking institutions,” Hira tells Mining Weekly.

Owing to the MTR plant being a replica of Pan African’s Elikhulu plant, constructed in 2018 at the miner’s Evander operations, in Mpumalanga, the design process of the MTR plant has been more efficient.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract was awarded to engineering consultants SGS Bateman. To undertake construction works, Pan African has appointed structural engineering firm PICM Civils, civil and building company CA Brand and construction specialists Nyasha Construction.

In addition, facilities management firm SSG Securities and Mapogo handle the security duties, while environmental rehabilitation company Hydromulch has been contracted to carry out environmental work.

Hira says the next tender for MTR work packages will be released in January 2024, and will include contracts to build the main office, a control room, a production office, change houses and ablution facilities, in addition to the related paving and fencing contracts. Local companies and labour are being prioritised to provide services.

The next tender phase should be completed within six to eight months from the start of construction.

Backlash from the community was an initial obstacle, experienced during the sod- turning event held in July.

However, once appeased – through engaging with legitimate stakeholders by means of a community and local government Round Table Engagement Forum and an ongoing media information campaign – the local community has realised the growth potential and benefits, he adds.

Positive Collaboration

Hira says all requisite authorisations for the MTR plant to proceed have been received timeously from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

“The willingness of parties to come together has had a positive impact, with the track record and proven capabilities of Pan African to successfully construct tailings retreatment operations, as well as the upfront securing of capital for the project, seen as hugely positive.”

This impact will manifest in the improvement of the environment and in boosting the local economy over the 20-year life-of-mine of the project.

Further, the effect on small businesses and ancillary suppliers will, in turn, have a multiplier effect on the local economy and job creation.

“We expect to employ around 450 people during construction, and about 500 direct employees on a permanent basis during production,” says Hira, stressing that the employment of locals is a priority in instances where skills are available.

He also points out that Pan African consistently strives to reduce its carbon footprint and was the first gold mining company in South Africa to commission a 10 MW grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) renewable-energy plant at its Evander gold mine.

“We are committed to reducing our emissions at all our operations in a sustainable manner and have started construction of an 8.75 MW solar PV plant at our Barberton Mines operations.”

In this regard, feasibility studies are being undertaken to expand the Evander PV plant to 22 MW and to establish a 10 MW PV plant at Mintails.

Pan African has also signed a wheeling agreement for 40 MW of renewable energy supply within the next two years and the miner is actively investigating further opportunities to source additional renewable energy from solar, wind and battery storage solutions.

Hira says the area has “immense potential” and that Pan African’s activities will create sustainable economic opportunities for the long term, help eradicate the problem of illegal mining activities, and improve the lives of local communities through its ‘beyond compliance’ initiatives.

“Through Pan African Resources’ ‘beyond compliance’ approach, other opportunities for development will also be created, including agriculture projects, while sustaining the mining industry for the future,” Hira concludes.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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