South Africa’s Great Basin Gold has started work on a vertical shaft access to the mine at a cost of $40.8 million.The gold deposit at Burnstone will be accessed mainly by way of a trackless decline, eventually to be 3,2 kilometers in length, to transport workers and materials. The 495-meters-deep vertical shaft will be used for rock hoisting and ventilation. The second shaft could also be used to transport workers in an emergency.
The importance of having a second access shaft was highlighted last year when a broken pipe fell down the main shaft at Harmony's Elandsrand gold mine and 3,000 miners were evacuated through the ventilation shaft. Great Basin Gold media spokeswoman Tsholo Serunye said the vertical shaft was provided for in the original mine plan, but it was also there to comply with the Mine Health and Safety Act. It would take 15 months to complete the vertical shaft, but rather than delaying first production from the mine, it would actually accelerate it because it would provide a second point of access, she said.
Burnstone CEO Ferdi Dippenaar said Burnstone's mining right application was being processed by the minerals and energy department and Great Basin had undertaken not to use the vertical shaft and associated infrastructure for commercial production until the right was granted.
According to Great Basin's updated feasibility study, first production from the mine is expected at the end of next year and the mill will start processing ore in early 2010. The mine will have a 19-year life, producing about 254,000 ounces of gold a year and employing about 2,500 people. (Business Day - Johannesburg)