Harmony Gold Mining and White Rivers Exploration said they found a major gold deposit in South Africa’s Free State that could lead to one of the country’s first new mines for the metal in the last 25 years.
The joint venture deposit contains 11.5 million ounces of gold at a grade of 8.9 grams per ton of gold.
“The joint venture project’s close proximity to Harmony Gold’s Target mine provides direct access to existing infrastructure, thereby limiting capital funding required and facilitating a fast-track development resulting in a payback of under four years,” White Rivers said.
It is located near Harmony Gold’s producing Target Mine, with mining to be conducted up to 2.2km underground.
Producers have extensively mined the Witwatersrand gold basin since it was discovered in 1886. South Africa was the world’s top bullion producer for more than 100 years until 2007, and dropped to the sixth largest in 2015, according to the World Gold Council.
The mine could produce between 250,000 and 300,000 ounces of the precious resource per year for more than 30 years, Bloomberg reports.
The companies plan to undertake a full prefeasibility study to determine the project’s economic value.
It could become one of the first new mines to open in the area since the South Deep mine in 1990.
White Rivers aims to trade their shares in London and Johannesburg next year.