Wits Gold Completes a Pre-Feasibility Study on the Bloemhoek Project, southern Free State Goldfield



    
    Witwatersrand Consolidated Gold Resources Limited
    (Incorporated in the Republic of South Africa)
    Registration Number 2002/031365/06
    JSE Code: WGR
    ISIN: ZAE000079703
    TSX Code: WGR
    CUSIP Number: S98297104
    ('Wits Gold' or 'the Company')
    

    JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 8 /CNW/ - Wits Gold is pleased to announce the
completion of a pre-feasibility study ("PFS") on its Bloemhoek project
("Bloemhoek"). This has illustrated that mining is both technically and
economically viable at Bloemhoek, which is situated adjacent to the Beatrix
Gold Mine, near Welkom in the southern Free State goldfield. The PFS was
completed under the guidelines of the South African Code for Reporting of
Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves ("SAMREC Code") as well as the Canadian
National Instrument 43-101 and has resulted in the conversion of Indicated
Resources into Probable Reserves. The study was undertaken by the independent
consultants, Gordon Cunningham and Tim Spindler (the "Qualified Persons") from
Turnberry Projects (Pty) Ltd., with mine design and scheduling input from
Ukwazi Mining Solutions (Pty) Ltd. The Qualified Persons have verified the
technical contents of this news release. A National Instrument 43-101
compliant technical report is being finalised and will be filed on SEDAR
within 45 days.
    The PFS was based on an estimated Indicated Mineral Resource in the
Bloemhoek area of 39.9Mt at an average grade of 7.17g/t, containing 9.2Moz of
gold. This Mineral Resource was estimated at a cut-off gold value of 300cm.g/t
for the Beatrix and Kalkoenkrans, where a three dimensional geological model
illustrated that these conglomerate reefs occur at depths of 1300 - 2400
metres below surface. This Mineral Resource was previously disclosed in the
National Instrument 43-101 technical report entitled "Witwatersrand
Consolidated Gold Resources Limited: Mineral Properties in the SOFS Goldfield,
South Africa" dated May, 2009. The technical report is available at
www.sedar.com and on the Company's web site at www.witsgold.com.
    Wits Gold currently owns 100% of the Prospecting Rights to Bloemhoek.
Should the Company complete a bankable feasibility study over the area,
Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited ("Harmony") has an option to acquire a 40%
stake in the project by refunding 40% of the historical exploration costs
since April 2004 and contributing 40% of the capital required to build the new
mine. Should Harmony decline to participate in the development of Bloemhoek,
Wits Gold will have the option to either progress the project alone or
negotiate terms with another operator.
    Applying the geological model, the PFS considered a number of alternative
shaft positions, mine designs and production profiles. The results from these
production schedules were subsequently input into a series of financial models
in order to compare the potential returns from each of these options. Based on
this approach, the optimum result envisages the sinking of a twin shaft system
to 1951 metres with the deeper areas being accessed by systems of declines. A
remote vertical ventilation shaft has been included in the schedule to reduce
underground development to remote blocks of reef. Similar to other standard
mining operations in South Africa, the layout comprises a system of footwall
haulages, cross-cuts to reef at 180 metre intervals, inter level reef raises
and breast stoping by conventional means. Significant mechanisation of the
operation is not considered suitable due to the narrow mining width. All
aspects of the proposed mine design are based on well established current
mining practice for neighbouring and similar orebodies.
    The conversion of Indicated Resources to Probable Reserves results from
the application of appropriate modifying factors for the mining method
selected. These take into account dilution and losses relating to all aspects
of the mining process and inter alia, include allowances for low grade reef
development, a minimum mining width of 115cm, waste from in-stope gullies,
minor geological losses and an expected Mine Call Factor. This process
resulted in the definition of an estimated Probable Reserve of 31.6Mt at a
plant head grade of 5.3g/t Au, containing 5.4Moz of gold. No Inferred
Resources were included in the conversion of Resources to Reserves.
    The following tabulation summarises the planning process followed to
progress from the Indicated Resource to the Probable Reserve.

    
                                       Mt                 Tonnes
                                     (000's)     Au g/t     Au          Moz

    Indicated Mineral Resource       39.900       7.17    286.230      9.200
    Geological Discounts             -0.660      -0.03     -3.710     -0.117
    Mineral Resource                 39.240       7.20    282.520      9.083
    No-design Blocks                -11.099       6.34    -70.344     -2.262
    Mineable Resource                28.141       7.54    212.176      6.821
    Design Losses                    -2.879       6.55    -18.859     -0.606
    Mining Losses                    -0.758       7.65     -5.800     -0.186
    Mineable Resource less Losses    24.504       7.65    187.517      6.029
    Stoping Dilution                  4.616          -          -          -
    Gulley Footwall Dilution          1.922          -          -          -
    Diluted Reef Development          0.598          -          -          -
    Diluted Mineable Resource        31.640       5.93    187.517      6.029
    Mine Call Factor                      -          -    -18.752     -0.603
    Probable Reserve                 31.640        5.3    168.765      5.426
    

    This Reserve calculation is based on an underground mine layout for
Bloemhoek that will require a total life of mine capital expenditure of R7 664
million (approximately US$958 million) including R320 million (US$40 million)
for sustaining capital. However, initial or peak funding will be considerably
lower at R3 528 million (US$441 million). It is estimated that operating costs
will be R529/tonne (US$66/tonne), whilst first reef production could be
achieved 48 months after the commencement of shaft sinking, as a result of
mid-shaft loading from the upper levels during shaft sinking.
    The ore will be delivered to an on-site Carbon In Leach gold recovery
plant that will recover 95% of the contained gold delivered to the plant
(based on the achieved plant performance from neighbouring mines). Including a
five year ramp up period, the mine is expected to operate for 23 years with an
average annual production in excess of 220 000oz of gold and cash costs
estimated at US$406/oz.
    A number of financial alternatives have been estimated for the PFS based
on different gold price scenarios. The results of this exercise are as
follows:

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Gold Price           US$800         US$975        US$1250        US$1500
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Pre-Tax IRR           12.2%          19.1%          27.1%          32.9%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NPV (5%)             R2 584m       R5 957m        R11 255m      R16 073m
                        (US$323m)     (US$745m)     (US$1 407m)   (US$2 009m)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    At a gold price of $975/oz, an exchange rate of R8.00 per US$ and a State
Royalty of 1.5% on revenue, the project has an IRR of 19.1% and the NPV (5%)
is R5 957 million (US$745 million).
    A sensitivity analysis of the major input variables as shown below
indicates that the financial model for Bloemhoek is most sensitive to gold
price and grade.

    
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Change in                   Change in
    Parameter                     Parameter     Base case     Parameter
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Gold Price                      -20%                         +20%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NPV @ 5% (before Tax)      R2 198m        R5 957m        R9 715m
                                 (US$275m)      (US$745m)     (US$1 214m)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    IRR (before Tax)               11.3%          19.1%         25.0%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Opex                            -20%                         +20%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NPV @ 5% (before Tax)      R7 502m        R5 957m        R4 412m
                                 (US$938m)      (US$745m)       (US$551)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    IRR (before Tax)               21.5%          19.1%         16.3%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Capex                           -20%                         +20%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NPV @ 5% (before Tax)      R6 981m        R5 957m        R4 932m
                                 (US$873m)      (US$745m)      (US$617m)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    IRR (before Tax)               23.8%          19.1%         15.5%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Grade                           -20%                         +20%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NPV @ 5% (before Tax)      R2 198m        R5 957m        R9 715m
                                 (US$275m)      (US$745m)     (US$1 214m)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    IRR (before Tax)               11.3%          19.1%         25.0%
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    SCOPING INVESTIGATION

    In addition to the PFS, a scoping level investigation or preliminary
assessment was completed to evaluate the impact of upgrading the Inferred
Resources into an Indicated category. The scoping level investigation has
suggested that such an upgrade could increase the Probable Reserve to 32.2Mt
at an average grade of 5.72g/t containing 5.9Moz at a cut-off gold value of
300cm.g/t. At a gold price of $975/oz, an exchange rate of R8.00 per US$ and a
State Royalty of 1.5% on revenue, this would have the effect of increasing the
IRR to 22.8% and the NPV (5%) to R7 753 million (US$969 million).
    Inferred Resources are considered too speculative geologically to have
economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be
categorised as Mineral Reserves. There is no certainty that the Inferred
Resources will be upgraded to the Indicated category or that the above
benefits to the IRR and NPV of the Bloemhoek project will be realised.
Additional drilling, assaying, and metallurgical testing may result in
reclassification of a portion of the Inferred Resources to a Measured and
Indicated Resource category

    NATIONAL INSTRUMENT 43-101 STATEMENT

    The conversion of Indicated Resources to Probable Reserve was made on 3
September 2009 based on the Indicated Resources quoted in the May 2009
NI43-101 technical report of Snowden Mining Industry Consultants Inc.
("Snowden"). This conversion process considered a geological loss to account
for minor faulting and sedimentological factors as per the Snowden, May 2009
report. Furthermore, it was also recognised that certain areas would not be
accessible or payable whilst other areas were part of the overall planning
system, but were excluded on the basis of infrastructural requirements.
    A number of different dilution factors were applied during the conversion
of Indicated Resources to Probable Reserves. These included dilution for the
waste rock mined during reef development, with tonnages being calculated for
each reef raise. Further dilution was included to account for over-breaking
during stoping by adding 15cms to the channel width or to 100cms, whichever
the greater. Further in-stope gully dilution was calculated from the footwall
waste removed in each scraper gully at 30 metre panel intervals.
    These geological and mining factors result in a combined in-stope
dilution of 27%. No further dilution factors are deemed necessary; whist a
mine call factor of 90% was applied.

    ABOUT WITS GOLD

    Wits Gold is a Johannesburg based gold and uranium exploration company
with a primary listing on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa and a
secondary listing on the TSX in Canada. The Company has been granted thirteen
Prospecting Rights which cover 102 512 hectares adjacent to existing mines in
the southern Free State, Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp goldfields of the
Witwatersrand Basin. Prior to the Bloemhoek PFS, these combined areas contain
a SAMREC and NI43-101 compliant Indicated Resource of 103.3Mt at 6.0g/t Au
(19.9Moz) and an Inferred Resource of 530.3Mt at 7.77g/t Au (131.9Moz). In
addition, these Prospecting Rights also contain an Inferred Resource of
211.1Mt at an average grade of 0.22kg/t U(3)O8 (104.5Mlbs).The immediate
exploration strategy for Wits Gold aims to add value through improved Mineral
Resource definition by additional drilling in a number of priority projects.

    FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS

    Certain statements in this news release may constitute forward-looking
information within the meaning of securities laws. In some cases,
forward-looking information can be identified by use of terms such as "may",
"will", "should", "expect", "believe", "plan", "scheduled", "intend",
"estimate", "forecast", "predict", "potential", "continue", "anticipate" or
other similar expressions concerning matters that are not historical facts.
Forward-looking information may relate to management's future outlook and
anticipated events or results, and may include statements or information
regarding the future plans or prospects of the Company. Without limitation,
statements about the development of the mine at Bloemhoek, required capital
expenditures, the time required for the mine at Bloemhoek to enter production,
the length of time the mine at Bloemhoek will operate at full production, the
annual production of gold at the Bloemhoek mine, the benefits of upgrading the
Inferred Resources to the Indicated category, and other related statements are
forward-looking information.
    Forward-looking information involves known and unknown risks,
uncertainties and other important factors that could cause the actual results,
performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from the
future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such
forward looking information. Such risks, uncertainties and other important
factors include among others: economic, business and political conditions in
South Africa; decreases in the market price of gold; hazards associated with
underground and surface gold mining; the ability to attract and retain
qualified personnel; labor disruptions; changes in laws and Government
regulations, particularly environmental regulations and Mineral Rights
legislation including risks relating to the acquisition of the necessary
licences and permits; changes in exchange rates; currency devaluations and
inflation and other macro-economic factors; risk of changes in capital and
operating costs, financing, capitalisation and liquidity risks, including the
risk that the financing required to fund all currently planned exploration and
related activities may not be available on satisfactory terms, or at all; the
ability to maximise the value of any economic Resources. These forward-looking
statements speak only as of the date of this document.
    You should not place undue importance on forward-looking information and
should not rely upon this information as of any other date. The Company
undertakes no obligation to update publicly or release any revisions to these
forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date
of this document or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events except
where required by applicable laws.





For further information:

For further information: Dr. Marc Watchorn, Chief Executive Officer,
Tel: +27 11 832 1749; Mr. Hethen Hira, Investor Relations, Tel: +27 11 832
1749

Organization Profile

Wits Gold

More on this organization


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890