South Africa

South Deep Mine

Click for more information

Categories

Overview

Mine TypeUnderground
StatusActive
Commodities
  • Gold
Mining Method
  • Hydraulic mining
  • High profile de-stress
  • Longhole stoping
  • Drift & Benching
Backfill type ... Lock
Production Start... Lock
Mine Life... Lock
SnapshotSouth Deep Gold Mine is a world-class bulk mechanised mining operation. The mine has been built to extract one of the largest known gold deposits in the world.

South Deep Mine consist of the:
- An underground bulk mechanised mine;
- The South Deep processing plant;
- For tailings retreatment, the South Deep plant also includes a tailings retreatment section that consists of a thickener followed by a dedicated CIL circuit.

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
BEE 10 % Indirect
Gold Fields Ltd. 90 % Indirect
South Deep Joint Venture (operator) 100 % Direct
The South Deep Joint Venture (“SDJV”) owns and operates the South Deep Gold Mine. The SDJV is an unincorporated joint venture between Gold Fields Operations Limited (“GFO”) and GFI Joint Venture Holdings Proprietary Limited (“GFIJVH”). GFO and GFIJVH are wholly owned subsidiaries of Newshelf 899 Proprietary Limited (“Newshelf”). The share capital of Newshelf comprises of:

- 90 000 000 “A” shares, representing 90% of Newshelf’s equity. Gold Fields Limited is the holder of the “A” shares; and

- 10 000 000 “B” shares, representing 10% of Newshelf’s equity. South Deep’s BEE shareholders are the holders of the “B” shares.

Contractors

Lock

- subscription is required.

Deposit type

  • Conglomerate hosted

Summary:

Gold mineralisation in the Witwatersrand Basin occurs within uraniferous quartz pebble conglomerate horizons, termed reefs. These reefs occur within seven separate goldfields located along the eastern, northern, and western margins of the basin known as the Evander, East Rand, Central Rand, West Rand, Far West Rand, Klerksdorp and Free State Goldfields respectively. Typically, within each goldfield there are one or two major reef units present, which may be overlain by one or more secondary reef units. As a result of geological faulting and other primary controls on mineralisation, the goldfields are not continuous and are characterized by the presence or dominance of different reef units. The reefs are generally less than 2 m in thickness and are widely considered to represent laterally extensive braided fluvial deposits or unconfined flow deposits which formed along the flanks of alluvial fan systems around the edge of what was effectively an ancient inland sea.

All major reef units are developed above geological unconformity surfaces. The angle of unconformity is typically greatest near the basin margin and decreases toward more distal areas. Complex patterns of syn-depositional faulting have caused variations in sediment thickness within the basin. Sub-vertical to over-folded reef structures are a characteristic of basin margin features within certain areas.

The gold is deemed primarily of detrital origin, deposited syngenetically with the conglomerates. Although the gold generally occurs in native form and is usually associated with pyrite and carbon, most of it has been subsequently modified and remobilized on a very local scale, typically less than a metre, by secondary hydrothermal processes.

Most early theories considered that the gold was deposited syngenetically with the conglomerates, but subsequent research has confirmed that metamorphism within the Witwatersrand Basin caused some limited post depositional redistribution of gold. Other experts regard the gold to be totally epigenetic and deposited solely by hydrothermal fluids, sometime after deposition of the reef sediments.

Despite these varied viewpoints, the most fundamental control to the gold distribution remains the association with quartz pebble conglomerates on intra-basinal unconformities. The reefs are extremely continuous due to the regional nature of the erosional surfaces. Bedrock (footwall) controls govern the distribution of many of the reefs. Preferential reef development within channel systems and sedimentary features such as facies variations and channel frequency assist in mapping out local gold distributions. The drilling, mapping, identification and modelling of erosional and sedimentary features is the key to developing meaningful geological and geozone models required to underpin robust Mineral resource estimation.

There are five primary reefs developed within the Central Rand Group. In chronological order, from older to younger, they are: South Reef, Kimberly’s, Lower Elsburg, Middle Elsburg and Upper Elsburg. Deposition of these reefs commenced at the north with the alluvial fans of the various reefs progressing southwards with time.

The Upper Elsburg reef at South Deep is anomalous with respect to the other Witwatersrand reefs developed within the basin due to its massive, divergent nature at depth below the VCR. The other reefs are typical Witwatersrand deposits representing narrow, tabular orebodies with distinct channelisation consistent with fluvial dynamics of the Witwatersrand.

The reefs at South Deep are typically massive in nature with little or no evidence of channelisation and are attributed to a sheet flood type deposit in a very high energy environment. This is believed to be a result of rapid and frequent movement of the syn-sedimentary, east-west trending faults in the vicinity giving rise to a high energy fluvial environment.

In the western half of the South Deep mining right, the VCR reef occurs as a single reef horizon at the base of Ventersdorp lava that overlies footwall lithologies of the Central Rand Group. The Upper Elsburg reef, which subcrops with the VCR in a north-northeast trend, comprises multiple stacked reef horizons that form part of an easterly divergent clastic wedge. This wedge attains a maximum thickness of approximately 120 m to the east and truncates against the VCR to the west.

The Upper Elsburg reef comprises up to 16 stratigraphic horizons with alternating quartzite and conglomeratic units. This divergent wedge is believed to be the resultant of rapid movement on syn-sedimentary, east-west trending faults resulting in a series of uplifts with associated transgressions and regressions giving rise to the alternating conglomerate and quartzite units and the staggered nature of the sub-cropping of the various units against overlying units. Due to the high energy environment, a sheet flood type deposit has developed resulting in areas of elevated grades, termed pay trends, being orientated in a north-south direction which is in contrast with a typical Witwatersrand deposit with pay trends aligned to the palaeocurrent direction where distinct channels are present.

The mine is also traversed by a series of intrusive dykes and geological faults which are of differing ages. The dykes are generally north-south and east-west trending. The younger north-south dykes are approximately 30 m thick and are not associated with any notable displacement. The east-west dykes are commonly associated with displacement in the magnitude of a few metres and range in thickness from 0.5 m to 3.0 m.

Faulting also has two prominent trends, namely east-west and north-south, with the latter being older and displaced by the east-west faults. The faults are steeply dipping with a normal throw and an average magnitude of vertical displacement that rarely exceeds 5 m. However, the most significant displacement is in the lateral sense which is clearly evidenced by displacement of the various dykes and to a lesser extent variance in channel width across faults. The minor faults are generally confined to the reef horizon and do not penetrate significantly into the footwall. The Wrench Fault has an approximate 180 m right lateral movement and between 110 m and 160 m upthrow to the south. The upthrow to the south benefits the mine by enabling a significant portion of the orebody to be accessed by current infrastructure.

Deposit types
South Deep lies at the north-western edge of the Archean Witwatersrand Basin of South Africa within the West Rand Goldfield. Gold mineralisation occurs within uraniferous quartz pebble conglomerate horizons, termed reefs. The reefs are generally less than 2 m in thickness and are widely considered to represent laterally extensive braided fluvial deposits or unconfined flow deposits which formed along the flanks of alluvial fan systems or deltas. All major reef units are developed above stratigraphic unconformity surfaces.

The Upper Elsburg formation conglomerates constitute the target economic horizon at South Deep and constitute 100 per cent of the South Deep Mineral reserve ounces. The Upper Elsburg conglomerates sub crop or truncate below the Ventersdorp Contact Reef (VCR) in a north-north-west trend and are anomalous with respect to the other Witwatersrand reefs as they comprise multiple stacked reef horizons forming an easterly-divergent massive clastic wedge which attains a maximum thickness of approximately 120 m to 130 m in the vicinity of the eastern boundary of the mining right area. In the western half of the South Deep mining right, the Ventersdorp Contact Reef occurs as a single reef horizon that overlies the Turffontein Subgroup and is covered by the Ventersdorp lavas and the VCR contributes to the Mineral resource only at this juncture.

Reserves

Lock

- subscription is required.

Mining Methods

Lock

- subscription is required.

Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Lock

- subscription is required.

Processing

Lock

- subscription is required.

Production

In 2023, in addition to ore treated from underground - 1,614 kt, South Deep processed 1,157 kt from hydraulic mining tailings re-processing, and 237 of Waste was treated.
CommodityUnits2024202320222021202020192018201720162015
Gold kg  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe6,9075,2208,7489,0326,160
All production numbers are expressed as metal in doré. ^ Guidance / Forecast.

Operational metrics

Metrics202320222021202020192018201720162015
Annual processing capacity  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe4 Mt4 Mt4 Mt4 Mt4 Mt
Ore tonnes mined  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe1,060 kt835 kt1,421 kt1,611 kt1,151 kt
Waste  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe77 kt200 kt189 kt111 kt88 kt
Total tonnes mined  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe1,138 kt1,036 kt1,610 kt1,722 kt1,239 kt
Tonnes processed  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe1,666 kt1,320 kt2,081 kt2,249 kt1,496 kt

Production Costs

CommodityUnits20242023202220212020201920182017
All-in sustaining costs (sold) Gold USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 1,259 / oz **   1,903 / oz **   1,340 / oz **  
All-in costs Gold USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 1,259 / oz **   2,012 / oz **   1,400 / oz **  
^ Guidance / Forecast.
** Net of By-Product.

Financials

Units20242023202220212020201920182017
Capital expenditures (planned) M USD  ....  Subscribe
Capital expenditures M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 33.1   58   82  
Sustaining costs M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 33.1   40   66  
Growth Capital M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe
Revenue M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 314.8   210.1   354.1  
After-tax Income M USD  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe  ....  Subscribe 7.2   -224.7   -25.3  

Heavy Mobile Equipment

Lock

- subscription is required.

Personnel

Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Apr 23, 2024
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Apr 23, 2024
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Apr 23, 2024
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Apr 23, 2024
....................... Subscription required ....................... Subscription required Subscription required Apr 23, 2024

EmployeesContractorsTotal WorkforceYear
...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required 2023
...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required 2022
...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required 2021
...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required 2020
...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required ...... Subscription required 2019

Aerial view:

Lock

- subscription is required.