Theta Gold Mines has selected Digmin Group as the mining contractor for trial mining activities at the Starter Theta project, in South Africa.
The appointment, which came after a competitive tendering process, will see Africa-focused Digmin mine two box cuts in the future Iota and Browns Hill pits during which final mining equipment and grade control practices will be selected.
Following the trial mining phase, it is anticipated Digmin will also do some of the bulk earthworks and civils as part of the project infrastructure establishment.
These operations are expected to commence once final permitting has been achieved (environmental authorisation for open-pit mining on Theta’s existing underground mining right). This authorisation is expected to be received in the December quarter, Theta said.
Theta Chairman, Bill Guy, stated: “The company has delivered another key milestone in the development of the Theta project with Digmin selected as our preferred mining contractor. They have intimate knowledge of the Theta open-pit project having spent many months with our mining team in order to deliver a well costed schedule of works, which presently remain in line with our May 2019 feasibility study costs.
“Having a reputable, experienced mining contractor on board adds significant credibility and will assist in financing the project development as it provides potential project financiers, of which there are several still under consideration, comfort in terms of execution and cost management.”
Guy said the Digmin team has in-depth knowledge of the Pilgrim’s Rest area with their founder living only 40 km from the Theta project.
“Digmin’s broad range of capabilities, including mining, rehabilitation, civil and road works, and open pit and underground drilling, give Theta’s project development team the flexibility to now focus on the successful build and operation of the Theta open-pit project,” he added.
On April 20, 2020, the company, which owns 74% of the project through Transvaal Gold Mining Estates Ltd, announced a final optimised feasibility study on the project, focused on Mining Right 83 (MR83), which, compared with the May 2019 original feasibility study, had a new mining schedule with a reduced environmental footprint, reflecting an increase in the production rate from 500,000 t/y to 600,000 t/y, including the mining of several old mine waste rock dumps.
Post permitting of MR83 and trial mining, the final mining contract is expected to be negotiated with Digmin. Synergies between different engineering procurement and construction contractors will also be explored, which potentially could reduce the overall and already low capital cost of the project, the company said.
Theta said it has also made good progress with the first stage 600,000 t/y gold plant construction tender process, based on a lump sum turnkey contract, with an announcement expected to be made in the September quarter.