Mining operations at Northam’s Kukama shaft, situated at its Eland mine complex, will recommence in the new financial year (F2020).

Kukama shaft back in business

Paul Dunne is Northam’s chief executive. Image credit: Northam

This significant development comes after the successful conclusion of a feasibility study for the Kukama project.

Northam purchased a 100% interest in the Eland mine from Glencore Operations South Africa Proprietary Limited in February 2017 for a cash consideration of R175-million. Eland mine was placed on care and maintenance in 2015, and Northam continued to manage it as such whilst undertaking the feasibility study for the Kukama shaft. To date, Northam continues to do so.

Northam chief executive, Paul Dunne, points to the positive investment return demonstrated by the Kukama project, which comfortably exceeds the company’s weighted average cost of capital.

While completing the feasibility study for Kukama shaft, and following positive feedback from the study, Northam commenced early work in preparation for its recommissioning. This includes refurbishing underground fixed and mobile equipment, as well as certain sections of the concentrator. Processing of the tailings storage facility at Eland mine has also commenced, which facilitated recommissioning of the surface plant and associated infrastructure. “The project further diversifies the group’s operations and production capacity, and does so efficiently by utilising an extensive existing capital footprint. Kukama is a project that lends itself to scaling up or down and will form the production base for the broader Eland complex,” adds Dunne.

Conversion of the Kukama decline shaft into a footwall array will start in F2020, along with limited early stoping. Strike development and stoping build-up is scheduled to commence in F2021. Production is forecast to reach 100Koz pa 4E by 2025 and steady state production of 150Koz pa 4E is forecast from 2029.