AngloGold restarts operations at South African gold mines following earthquake

12 August 2014 (Last Updated August 12th, 2014 18:30)

AngloGold Ashanti is planning to resume operations at its Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines in South Africa, which were halted due to a 5.3 magnitude earthquake on 5 August.

Moab_Khotsong

AngloGold Ashanti is planning to resume operations at its Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines in South Africa, which were halted due to a 5.3 magnitude earthquake on 5 August.

The company is carrying out inspections and repair works at the affected mines and on the horizontal underground infrastructure affected by the earthquake.

AngloGold is also inspecting the vertical shafts, including the 3km-deep shaft at Moab Khotsong, which is claimed to be the longest single shaft in the world.

According to the company, the halting of operations has resulted in loss of around 30,000oz of gold output, which is estimated to be worth $38m at current gold price.

In addition, the company faced downtime at the Mine Waste Solutions surface operation due to power disruption and also at the nearby Kopanang mine due to the precautionary inspection of infrastructure.

AngloGold Ashanti South Africa CEO Mike O'Hare said: "Safety remains the top priority in re-starting these operations as we ramp-up production levels, which will take some time to complete.

"At no point will safety be compromised."

Around 3,300 people were working underground when the earthquake hit the mines.

"At the moment, we can't tell if it was natural or caused by mining activity. We're studying the earthquake and in a month's time will have a good idea as to the cause."

AngloGold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "When we got the news that the epicentre was closer to our mines than any other mines and we had 3,300 people trapped in, that was a terrifying day of our lives.

"We got the call at 7:30pm that night saying everyone has been accounted for, employees and contractors. That was a relief."

Following the quake, the company treated 28 injured workers and provided trauma counselling to distressed workers.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg-based Wits University geophysicist Musa Manzi claimed that the quake could have been triggered by mining activity in the region.

Council for Geoscience seismologist Eldridge Kgaswane told the news agency that: "At the moment, we can't tell if it was natural or caused by mining activity.

"We're studying the earthquake and in a month's time will have a good idea as to the cause."

Venkatakrishnan denied the claim saying: "Earthquakes happen in areas where there is no mining taking place.

"It's more driven around the geology of the place rather than specifically in relation to mining."


Image: Moab Khotsong is one of the two mines of AngloGold Ashanti that felt the tremors. Photo: courtesy of AngloGold Ashanti.

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