DRDGOLD says commissioning of the Far West Gold Recoveries project, previously the West Rand Tailings Retreatment project, is set to start on December 6.
Commissioning of the South Africa project will begin with the pumping of reclaimed tailings into the carbon-in-leach circuit. This comes just four months into the construction of Phase 1.
Far West Gold Recoveries was acquired from Sibanye Gold, trading as Sibanye-Stillwater, at the end of July. Stage 1 of the project involves upgrading of the Driefontein 2 plant to treat material from the Driefontein 5 dam.
DRDGOLD CEO Niël Pretorius said: “The project is on track to achieve full production of 500,000 t/mth from Phase 1 in the first quarter of 2019.”
As part of early-stage commissioning, a face has been established at the Driefontein 5 tailings dam reclamation site, from which pumping of reclaimed tailings through a new 2 km pipeline to the Driefontein 2 plant is set to begin. A parallel pipeline to return water from the plant to the reclamation site has been completed, DRD said.
Work to upgrade the plant’s retreatment capacity is well advanced, with carbon loading – also part of the overall commissioning process – set to begin immediately.
An 8 km pipeline to transport retreated tailings from the plant for cyclone deposition on the Driefontein 4 tailings dam and a parallel return water pipeline from the deposition site to the plant have also been completed.
Phase 2 of the project, which involves consolidation of what remains of Phase 1 material and the remaining tonnes of material acquired, envisages a monthly production rate of 1.2 Mt and is planned to be enacted within 24 months after the start of Phase 1 production.
Key features of Phase 2, feasibility of which will be tested over the next two years, are the construction of a large, centralised plant and an ultra-high volume deposition facility.
The acquisition of the project saw DRDGold increase its gold reserves by 92% to 5.75 Moz.