West Wits Mining Limited (ASX:WWI) has secured the environmental authorisation component of a mining right application for the Witwatersrand Basin Project (WBP) in South Africa and has completed the scoping study for the project.
Both events significantly de-risk WBP as the company accelerates feasibility studies to target maiden underground production in 2021.
The project’s mineral resource estimate (MRE) sits at 3.65 million ounces (33.9 million tonnes at 3.4 g/t) with 2.4 million ounces (21.1 million tonnes at 3.55 g/t) in the measured and indicated categories at a 2.0 g/t cut-off grade.
Staged development planned
The independent scoping study confirmed the company’s view that WBP offers multiple areas for mining, identifying five distinct areas which enable staged development.
West Wits Mining executive chairman Michael Quinert said in his letter to shareholders that this provides optionality to the board in managing the Capex profile which is expected to be low due to the existing historical infrastructure and planned toll treatment.
He said: “Part of the initial mining area at Kimberly East includes an exploration target for the K9A reef in that zone.
“The geology team has been working hard to convert that exploration target into a JORC compliant mineral resource with results expected imminently.
“This is expected to augment and underpin further the already sizeable 3.65 million-ounce JORC Resource.”
Increasing the JORC resource
Notably, the ore bodies are still open in multiple directions with additional reef packages of the prolific Witwatersrand Basin system yet to be explored by West Wits in the project area.
An exploration desktop study of existing historical mining data is being utilised to evaluate the reef with an aim to bring it into the WBP’s 3.65-million-ounce gold global JORC resource.
These results are anticipated in the near term.
The Witwatersrand Basin Project comprises two historic mining centres on the Northern Edge of the Witwatersrand Basin in the Central Rand Goldfield immediately southwest of the city of Johannesburg
Bankable feasibility study
WWI’s development plan aims to convert greater than 75% of the initial 10-year mining footprint of the Qala Shallows into measured and indicated resource categories to underpin the bankable feasibility study (BFS) on the Qala Shallows which was commissioned in September 2020.
The exploration work on the K9A target conversion project carried out during the period will identify areas for infill drilling to improve the resource confidence level.
Improving the size of the indicated and measured resource categories will then allow assessing a greater resource for conversion to a reserve following the completion of the BFS.
Mt Cecelia Project
The company has been keeping an eye on recent the developments in the Paterson Province after Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and Greatland Gold PLC’s (LON:GGP) exceptional exploration results at WINU and Havieron respectfully.
Quinert said: “These results have fired escalating interest in the area surrounding West Wits’ Mt Cecelia project in the Paterson Province, Western Australia.”
The company signed an access agreement with Rio during the year, enabling Rio to build tracks to access their tenements which virtually surround West Wits 100% owned project.
Identifying drilling targets
A specialist desktop study was completed in April 2020, identifying an orogenic gold target, was followed up with a SkyTEM helicopter-borne aeromagnetic survey in September 2020 over the entire tenement area, identifying five target areas.
Survey results are anticipated in quarter four 2020 and are expected to include recommendations for drilling targets for the 2021 field season in the Paterson Province.
Quinert said: “This method is an exploration technique which has been fundamental to the success of peer companies in the region and the Board is looking forward to seeing the results as we take our next steps in this exciting region.
“As we move forward towards the grant of the mining right for WBP the gold price has strengthened and with it our prospects of providing meaningful returns on your investment.”
Mt Cecelia (red) location and overview exploration projects on the border of the Paterson Province and East Pilbara region.
As part of the company’s strategic plan to move towards a more operational focused footing as the WBP gears towards the development of the underground mine, a board restructure was completed in April 2020.
West Wits' aim was to introduce skill sets to improve the board’s capability to drive activity.
The restructure included the appointment of South African based managing director Jac van Heerden, to drive development of WBP towards production.
West Wits also made key appointments with the hiring of a geology and exploration manager and social and labour manager, both of which the company believes are critical roles to the success of the company’s strategic transformation.