New tech helps DRDGold widen its fine margins
In 2013 DRDGold commenced work to improve operating efficiencies. Errors in the tech implementation made for a bad start, but once this was remedied the company experienced an operational turnaround.
Extracting gold from Johannesburg’s dumps is an exact science, which makes DRDGold – one of t he principal operators in this sliver of the SA mining market – more of a technology company than a miner.
Take, for instance, the fact that ret r i ev i ng a n i mproved 0. 26g to 0.29g/ton of rock re-mined means the company can lock in reserves – which didn’t exist previously when the yield was 0.18g/ton – of 10 to 15 years. These are tiny margins and DRDGold CEO, Niël Pretorius, has to make sure the company’s main processing plant in Brakpan runs without a hitch.
In order to improve eff iciencies, the company embarked on a R650m technology programme in 2013. The project didn’t work initially and the company had to suspend the new technology while it found the fault. “In retrospect, we should have been more modular about installing the f lotation fine-grind system. Instead, we commissioned everything in one f lick of the switch, so when things went wrong, we couldn’t figure out where the problem was,” Pretorius says.
He acknowledges some complacency crept into the company’s practices after several years of successfully converting DRDGold to a surface re-miner from its traditional activity of deep, marginal, underground gold mining.
Now, however, the new f ine-grind technology – essentially a circuit that allows DRDGold improved recoveries – is humming along pretty well, helping