Theta Gold Mines – Buried Treasure
Theta Gold Mines are returning to a historic goldfield to use modern technology & techniques to get new wealth from an old resource.
In South Africa’s Eastern Goldfields, where the country’s gold mining industry first began nearly 130 years ago, a giant goldfield is reawakening. Theta Gold Mines Limited, who owns 74% of the East Transvaal Goldfield, are beginning to bring back open pit mining to this large and historic underground mining goldfield. Theta Gold Mines has returned to this monumental site because of the opportunities provided by its unique geological properties.
We’re ramping up exploration,” says Bill Guy, the Chairman
of Theta Gold Mines. “The geology of South Africa is some of the best in the world. Our site at The Transvaal Gold System sits geological on the eastern side of Bushveld Complex the largest igneous intrusion on earth. We are developing our goldfield, the new mill will be delivered on-site in March, it’s all been very productive.
The Environmental Impact Assessment has gone in, we’re building up the team, we have employees and progressing towards production!”
A Historic Site
It’s extremely rare to find vertical and horizontal reef systems such as this. The system Theta is looking to produce from is either two different gold systems or one giant one, and either way the potential is exciting. A geologically similar gold deposit is hard to find anywhere in the world. The geometry of the reefs means that nearly every square inch of the terrain has exploration potential.
This area has also been home to a number of gold deposits discovered between 1840 and 1870. South Africa’s first gold rush took place in 1873 when payable gold was discovered on the farm Geelhoutboom near the town of Sabie approximately 35 km from Pilgrims Rest. The region has been considered so rich in resources and easy targets for mining that the early miners would simply abandon sites that became difficult, moving to other areas still confident they would strike it lucky.
Now, with the benefit of modern mining techniques and high-powered machinery, as well as accurate later surveying, resource modelling and modern processing technology, we are seeing that over a century later mining companies are able to explore and develop these old prospects and mines to discover new riches.
Theta Gold Mines is approaching these sites armed not only with the knowledge that they possess well-defined, low-risk exploration targets, but also an existing carbon in leach treatment plant dating back to the 1980s. Theta has plans to refurbish and add new components to this plant, expanding it to enable rapid ramp-up of production across the whole project.
While the company’s past focus has been on underground mining, their latest strategy is to delineate high-grade open cut resources, which have a lower risk profile, because they are faster to develop than underground deposits and need less capital.
Theta Gold Mines already has three resource upgrades and the Theta Project Feasibility Study to show for their efforts.
That feasibility study has shown the mine has strong economic potential, with enough resources to sustain open-cut mining. Theta has developed an exploration model to use across the 43 historic mines under their management. Theta’s cycle of development and exploration is one that has never been applied to the East Transvaal Goldfield, and Guy is excited by the potential results, especially at a time when new gold production stories are thin on the ground.
“There’s not a huge number of new production stories out there,” Guy points out. “But we’ve got a unique investment proposition. We will be drilling down for 12 dollars an ounce (US), (discoverer cost per gold ounce as an indicated resource). If you look at the stats around the Pacific Rim, they’re closer to 83 dollars as an ounce.”
“Our costs for discovering ounces is cheap. You’re not just talking about resource ounces, we’re talking indicated ounce that can be converted to a probable reserve ounce,” Guy points out. “When you look at the cost to discover gold around the world, then you get a real sense of the cost of the Theta resource.”
While the costs of exploration and extraction are low, Theta Gold Mines still faces some challenges in terms of seeking the financial backing they will need to make the most of these exceptional resources.
“We’re pushing pretty hard. Finding funding for the exploration and development of the Starter Open-pit project will be a big challenge, but London is being supportive. Finances may be an issue in the future but we’re in a good position,” Guy says. “When you look around the world, the gold space is going to be a pretty big space over the next couple of years.”
To build on that, and ensure they have the financial backing they need, Theta Gold Mines is telling their story far and wide.
“We’re very proactive in marketing. We’re increasing our social media presence, reaching out to potential shareholders,” Guy says. “The US, in particular, has been responsive to the gold story in South Africa.”
An important part of that story is that gold is far from the only valuable resource South Africa has to offer. It boasts a wealth of talent and resources that any mining operation would love to have at their disposal.
“South Africa has everything required for building a mine site,” Guy says. “All the construction equipment, qualified people, it’s been relatively easy, to be honest. Everything you can want or need is here.”
Indeed, Guy is confident enough that this will be a success that he is already looking to see which projects might follow it.
“We’re looking at a five-year programme to expand production,” he says. “We’re now starting to focus on a longer-term vision with a pipeline of projects which we’re starting. Once we get this off the ground, we’ve money and income to develop these underground projects as well.”