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Biggest Known Gold Field Is Almost Empty

Peak Gold

South African gold on final deathwatch as top grade scientist finds residual gold is more than 90% less than claimed

Barry Sergeant
Mineweb
November 16, 2009

The apparent bottom line in a paper published in the South African Journal of Science is that South Africa’s gold industry is on final deathwatch, despite claims of massive existing below-ground reserves. Chris Hartnady, research and technical director of Cape Town earth sciences consultancy Umvoto Africa, has found that South Africa’s Witwatersrand goldfields are around 95% exhausted, and anticipates that production rates should fall permanently below 100 tonnes a year within the coming decade.

Gold production from the Witwatersrand, the biggest known gold field in the world, peaked at around 1,000 tonnes in 1970 and has declined ever since. Hartnady says that while initially (1970-1975) the decline was “quite precipitous”, it has been interrupted by only short periods of slight trend reversal (1982-1984 and 1992-1993).

Leon Esterhuizen, a London-based specialist analyst at RBC Capital Markets, has reacted to the research by saying that “South African gold is dying — this is not new news”, but adds “that it may be dying faster than we currently believe is novel”. On the levels of reserves, Hartnady finds that the South African “residual gold reserve” after production through 2007 is only 2 948 tonnes, a little less than three times the 1970 production figure, and much less than 10% of the officially cited reserve

The country’s gold reserves are less than half of the current United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimate of 6 000 tonnes, and the country is not first, but fourth in world rankings, after Australia (5,000 tonnes), Peru (3,500 tonnes) and Russia (3,000 tonnes), Hartnady’s research shows. The USGS currently cites South Africa’s gold reserves at around 6,000 tonnes, while SA claims a 36,000 tonnes reserve base figure (or about 40% of the global total). Hartnady’s findings are based on Chamber of Mines figures and mathematical modeling pioneered by the distinguished American geologist M. King Hubbert.

Esterhuizen comments that “most recent indications from Harmony (even with gold bullion at new dollar records over USD 1,133/oz) is that its old shafts – effectively the Free State gold field – are dying. DRDGold has got Blyvooruitzicht on life support and is trying to get permission to keep the plug in for a little bit longer (with everything around Blyvooruitzicht now having been shut down), while Pamodzi Gold’s demise and Simmer & Jack’s failure at Buffelsfontein just proves the point — all of this, at record gold prices in rand terms”.

Read Full Article Here

 

Gold Is in a ‘Bubble’ And Will Keep Going Higher: Gartman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3-fNySuepo

Barrick Confirms We Reached Peak Gold

Gold moves $1,133 per troy ounce

 

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