Barplats Investments Limited (Barplats) is pleased to announce that the first blast to mark the re-start of the decline development at the Zandfontein section of Crocodile River Mine will take place on 27 September 2006. Development of the decline system, which was successfully de-watered in June this year, will be undertaken using mechanised equipment; mining of the orebody accessed by this development will be by conventional mining methods.

Murray & Roberts Cementation, with whom a contract was signed in June 2006, will undertake the proposed development at Zandfontein. Work in terms of the R65 million two-year contract began in July 2006 and entails developing declines 2 and 5 and all associated horizontal development required to generate an 18- to 24-month available reserve.

Crocodile River’s Zandfontein section comprises four operating surface declines. Various alternative access methods are being considered to exploit the orebody down to a depth of 1, 000m. Existing infrastructure includes an 8.5-metre diameter vertical shaft which could be re-equipped for production. The shaft has successfully been dewatered allowing it to contribute for the first time to the mine’s production as an intake airway, providing multi-blast conditions, thus allowing high speed development.

Says Tom van den Berg, Operations Director, Barplats, "The capital development at Zandfontein is a significant milestone for Crocodile River Mine. Zandfontein has a key role to play in contributing to the mine’s growth profile with the plan to ramp-up production from this section to 140 000 tonnes a month by mid 2009."

According to Leon Munnik, business manager responsible for this project at Murray & Roberts Cementation, the contract was secured based on the company’s proven references on similar contracts. "Murray & Roberts Cementation has the necessary resources and experienced skilled personnel to undertake a mechanised operation such as this."

"With a well established mechanised infrastructure already on site, it was a foregone conclusion that the sinking of the declines would be a mechanised operation. In addition, this will reduce risk," Munnik says.