After nearly five years of planning and development, Theta Gold Mining is on the threshold of restarting gold mining at Transvaal Gold Mining Estates which has been operational on the historical goldfields around Pilgrim’s Rest since 1895. The company believes that this development will also bring many positive social, economic and environmental benefits to the region.
According to George Jenkins, CEO of TGME, they are hoping to be operational by next year. Once the authorisations and funding for the Theta open cast project are in place it will take around nine months to complete the building programmes at the plant and the mine and before starting production. The environmental authorisation application is currently heading towards finalisation after plans for impact reduction were adjusted to address concerns raised by various parties.
The Theta open cast project, with a projected life of 5 years, is viewed as an entryway back into full production. The company hopes to fund future underground mining with the revenue generated by this relatively low-cost project. Present TGME projections show resources of 6 million ounces of gold, which is nearly as much gold as has been mined in the area during the past 150 years.
The whole TGME plant will be rebuilt to increase capacity. A ball mill, a very significant piece of heavy equipment, was recently purchased and delivered to the plant. This, Jenkins explained, demonstrated the company’s commitment to moving back into production.
Around 300 people will be employed during the building phase and an estimated 400 jobs will be created once the company starts production. Much of the work will require skilled labour which might not be available within the local community. However, all contractors will be encouraged to employ persons from the local community for unskilled labour needs as was done during the exploration phase.
“We’re very excited about trying to get this project back up and running,” said Jenkins. “Besides becoming operational, we recognize the huge impact it will have on the area.” Over and above employment creation and skills development, the mine is already sponsoring various social upliftment projects in the local community. Furthermore, the economy of Pilgrim’s Rest and local businesses will benefit greatly from the mining activities as more locals are employed and contractors are brought into town.
Although the mining operations will have an environmental impact, the company believes that it will also make a positive contribution to improving the environment. Examples include the eradication of invasive species in the river systems and continuing rehabilitation of areas that were mined in the past.
Furthermore, the company has plans to establish resources within Pilgrim’s Rest that will continue to provide an economic benefit once mining operations cease. To this end, they are already committed to restoring and developing the caravan park and the golf course.
While there is currently no answer to the question of how long TGME will remain in production, Theta Gold Mining is certainly looking into the future. “We are focused on this area, we want to get this area up and running,” Jenkins emphasised. “There is a huge opportunity here to turn this back into a good, strong, and sustainable mining hub.”