Vaal Reefs Mine, South Africa, and the Role of the Geologist

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1990
Vaal Reefs Mine annually produces some 75 tonnes of gold. Stoping operations, using a scattered mining method, are conducted on several reef horizons within Witwatersrand Supergroup metasediments of the Klerksdorp Goldfield. Current grades average 7.19 g/t Au over a 133cm stoping width. The reef horizons, of which the Vaal Reef is the most important, consists of 2.9Ga palaeoplacer deposits at the base of low angle unconformities. Typically, a reef comprises a mature quartz and chert conglomerate with a siliceous matrix and intergranular pyrite and carbon. Geologists are primarily responsible for underground mapping and supervising of drilling programs. To a lesser extent they are involved with sampling, grade control, ore reserve estimation, mine planning and rock mechanics. Due to a general decline in grades of gold mines, an escalation of production costs, and with the current weak gold price, it has become essential to improve production efficiencies. Consequently the role of the mine geologist has moved away from that of simply keeping the mining people "on reef'. Greater emphasis is being placed on refining geological models to assist in selective mining of the reef and investigations of secondary reef horizons are encouraged. Exploration within fault losses and re-evaluation of pillars is important, and geologists are becoming more involved with sampling and grade control exercises.
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