Nope. I never said that. I simply feel that Jerry should have retired years ago and given someone else a try.
Haven't you milked this gravy train long enough? I remember hearing that you were going to retire 10 years ago. What happened? Maybe you should have. ADI's stock price performance over the past 10 years has been a disaster! Do you really need the money so bad that you just refuse to recognize that maybe there is some younger visionary within the company that could actually cause this company to experience some growth. RETIRE!
We will see what happens over the new few days, After hours doesn't mean anything. The company guided sales up slightly during the last conference call and hit in the mid-range. If the analysts didn't adjust their guidance along the way they are going to be off now. I don't place too much credibility in First Call estimates. I think it was a decent quarter under these difficult times.
DRDGold loses production to strike at its flagship gold mine
Workers embarking on an illegal strike at the Blyvoor gold mine have been ordered to return to work tonight.
Author: Tessa Kruger
Posted: Friday , 30 May 2008
DRDGold SA lost a day's production of 15kg gold at its major Blyvooruitzicht mine today as 3,300 workers went on an illegal strike over the police arrest of two workers.
Chief executive officer Niel Pretorius said this afternoon the company had gained a court interdict instructing workers to halt the illegal strike and return to work and it hoped that the now healthy Blyvoor mine would start production again tonight.
Pretorius said the workers went on strike from work as they suspected the company was involved with the police arrest of the two employees who were arrested in connection with the murder and assault of two men in a field near Blyvoor mine in December last year.
However, the company and police explained to workers this afternoon that the arrest was a police action only and DRDGold handed over an ultimatum for workers to return to work tonight.
They were holding a mass meeting with the South African Mine Workers Union this afternoon to discuss the ultimatum to end the strike.
Pretorius said Blyvoor had been transformed into a healthy mine at current gold prices with both its surface and underground operations performing well in the first quarter of the year.
This was in contrast with its past performance that saw the mine paying for costs from surface operations.
"Blyvoor battled until the end of last year, but it's a healthy mine now. For this reason, we hope that workers will return to work tonight."
Pretorius said Blyvoor mine produced about 400kg of gold per month of the company's total production in South Africa of 830kg per month.
DRDGold cracks it for once
Posted: Fri, 09 May 2008
[miningmx.com] -- Way better-than-expected March quarter results from DRDGold show what can be achieved on the back of the soaring gold price provided a mining company keeps control over its costs and production levels.
The marginal gold miner posted a cash operating profit of R142,2m for the March quarter which is nearly treble the R47,6m profit for the December quarter.
Headline earnings rocketed to 27,5c a share compared with just 2.4c a share in the December quarter and a loss of 21,2c a share in the March 2007 quarter.
The fundamental factors underpinning these financial results are that DRDGold’s production fell only 9% to 70,378oz (December quarter – 77,259oz) while cash operating costs rose 6% to R162,806/kg (R153,690/kg).
Analyst estimates were for a much sharper drop in gold output with JP Morgan predicting that DRDGold would produce just 51,000oz in the March quarter because of the Eskom power problems and the Christmas holiday breaks that fall into this quarter.
DRDGold CEO John Sayers attributed the drop in output to a combination of lower grade from the ERPM mine and the Eskom power problems. He noted that production would have been 3,000oz higher were it not for the Eskom power cuts.
On the basis of that performance DRDGold reaped the full benefit of the soaring gold price which was 32% higher at R228,836/kg (R173,606/kg).
The $64,000 question is whether DRDGold can maintain this kind of performance.
Sayers said, “Provided Eskom is able to continue to supply power at 95% of its previous level, and to continue to give notice of impending cuts, we remain optimistic that – all other operational factors remaining stable – we will be able to maintain current production levels.”
DRDGold is restructuring ERPM which underperformed badly in the quarter showing a 21% drop in overall gold production to 17,362oz which resulted mainly from a 34% drop in underground yield to 4.68grammes/tonne.
Sayers commented, “the decline in underground grade at ERPM is an unfortunate reversal. The pattern of declining production and rising costs over a number of quarters simply cannot be allowed to continue.”
He said DRDGold was fortunate that the gold price had compensated for these operational problems but added, “we are conscious that we cannot fall into complacency and that our drive to return the South African operations to sustainable stability must continue apace.”
DRDGold’s future growth is increasingly viewed as being dependent on its surface dump retreatment operations through subsidiary Crown Mines and also through the JV with Mintails which is re-establishing the former Ergo operation on the East Rand.
So Sayers’ apparent frustration with the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) over permission to treat the Top Star dump south of the Johannesburg CBD is understandable.
He commented; “In our view we have complied with all the requirements for a mining licence to mine the Top Star dump. We enquire on a weekly basis regarding the progress of our application and still await a positive response from the DME.”
Sayers added the refurbishment of the Brakplan plant in terms of the Ergo JV with Mintails remains on track.
The writer owns shares in DRDGold
However, he says: "I think it's in everyone's mind that there will be winners and losers in this process as it plays out. We're creating a platform for uranium production in this country. You want to bring together quality assets with a high probability of success rather than create a large asset with a low probability of success."
The managements of both Mintails and Newco agree that treating dump materials on the surface is the way to go, as that's far less risky than mining underground ore.
Says Munro: "Newco has high value, well drilled surface dump deposits - and that removes a lot of the risk from the development."
Uranium One's developing Dominion mine presents a classic example of those risks, where the underground mining operations aren't delivering anywhere near the volumes and grade ore planned for.
Munro says SA has the potential to be a significant producer of uranium despite problems, such as Eskom's power cuts and the skills shortage. He says SA's uranium sector could eventually consist of five operators, each producing around 2m lb/year of U3O8.
In their heyday during the Seventies and Eighties, SA's mines produced at those levels (or greater), with the peak year being 1980 when 16m lb was produced. Production subsequently declined sharply, as mines closed their plants in reaction to a plunging uranium price.
Currently, the only commercial uranium producer is AngloGold Ashanti, which produced 1,4m lb in 2006, according to Chamber of Mines statistics.
Says Munro: "Uranium consumers are looking for alternative sources of supply. In SA you have resources that are accessible and situated next to good infrastructure. You can say what you like about the uncertainty here, but take a look around the world where mining is taking place. When you look at it 'all up', SA still stacks up as a very attractive mining destination."
Mintails got its start in the business when mining entrepreneur Peter Skeat bought the two mothballed Ergo treatment plants from AngloGold Ashanti and then merged his business with Mintails. The refurbished Brakpan plant will treat Ergo's dumps while sections of the former Daggafontein plant are being reassembled on the West Rand to treat Mintails' West Rand dumps.
Both Mintails and First Uranium/Simmers, plus Russian company Renova, are understood to have bid for the assets that Pamodzi now owns.
PRF chief investment officer Gerard Kemp says Newco "could facilitate the consolidation of uranium assets on the West Rand".
That's also the view of Mintails director Lloyd Birrell. Interviewed during a recent visit by financial media to the Brakpan plant, Birrell said Mintails was keen to negotiate a consolidation of the operations of the players on the West Rand. He said it makes commercial and logistical sense to do so. Birrell added that it's one of the areas former Harmony CEO Bernard Swanepoel is looking at in his role as a non-executive director of Mintails.
Both Skeat and Birrell say a key technical issue is the site of the "super dump" that must be created on the West Rand to contain the hundreds of millions of tons of waste material generated as the existing dumps are retreated and moved.
That material has to be re-deposited elsewhere and obtaining an environmental permit to do so is viewed as one of the most important issues affecting the proposed developments.
Many of the existing dumps are situated on porous geological structures, such as the dolomite formations that cover much of the West Rand. Consequently, water containing high concentrations of uranium and other pollutants has drained from some of the dumps into ground water and eventually into neighbouring rivers, sparking an environmental outcry.
Mintails says it now owns the best site for a West Rand "super dump" situated on ground underlain with granite rock formations about 20km from Randfontein. Granite is impervious, meaning any water that drained out of the dumps wouldn't be able to seep into the underlying ground water. Mintails says ownership of that site is a trump card in its negotiations with regard to consolidation in the region.
Munro disagrees: "It's not clear to me that anyone has a dominant position. We (Pamodzi) have a suitable site 40km away. All the other producers have their proposed sites. Everybody is focused on the issue of getting the tailings dumps off the dolomite."
Munro also doesn't seem convinced that massive consolidation is the way to go, pointing to issues such as the geographical spread of operations and the quality of the various assets.
SA uranium players ponder tie-ups
Posted: Fri, 18 Apr 2008
[miningmx.com] -- THE stakes are rising in the competition to dominate South Africa's reviving uranium industry, and the West Rand is fast turning out to be the key battleground.
That's where Pamodzi/Harmony, Mintails and First Uranium/Simmer & Jack (Simmers) are all vying for position with the aim to "consolidate" the sector. Also falling into the region are the massive mines owned by Gold Fields and AngloGold Ashanti along the West Wits line near Carletonville.
Both groups have extensive resources of dump materials that could be treated to recover uranium and both are considering their options.
AngloGold Ashanti executive vice-president Thero Setiloane says: "We're assessing options that range from setting up our own dump re-treatment operation to merging our assets with those of other players, such as Gold Fields and Harmony, to selling off our uranium assets. We've had informal discussions with various parties. We aren't involved in any negotiations at this stage."
Setiloane declined to identify the parties with whom AngloGold Ashanti has held informal discussions.
The latest development is the decision by top Gold Fields executive John Munro to join the uranium company being set up by Harmony and Pamodzi Resources Fund Advisors (PRF). Dubbed "Newco" at this stage, the new company was formed in December last year when Harmony agreed to sell various dumps to it from its Randfontein Estates mine while retaining a 40% stake in the business.
Those assets include dumps in the Cooke Section - in particular, the huge Cooke 3 dump - as well as the dumps forming part of the "old Randfontein" section of the mine.
Harmony sold the Randfontein No 4 shaft in 2006 to Simmers, which it renamed Ezulwini, and is in the process of reopening the underground mine to produce gold and uranium.
The other force to be reckoned with on the West Rand is Australian-listed Mintails, which intends setting up Wergo (West Rand Gold and Uranium) to mirror the rejuvenated East Rand Gold and Uranium (Ergo) plant it's developing there, in partnership with DRDGold.
DRD Gold stock seen as expensive after strong start to 2008
Deutsche Securities says "hold" DRD after returning 35% in US dollar terms by 28 March.
Author: Tessa Kruger
Posted: Sunday , 13 Apr 2008
DRD Gold has had a "remarkable start" to 2008, returning 59% in rand and 35% in US dollar terms, but Deutsche Securities says the stock appears expensive at current levels.
Gold analyst Muneer Ismail said in a recent research note the stock outperformed the FTSE/JSE Africa Gold index by a remarkable 50% from January to end of March this year.
But despite the fact that Deutsche recently upgraded its DRD price target by 10% to 800c/R8 on the back of a higher forecast gold price, the stock now appeared expensive and the firm has downgraded its recommendation to "hold".
Deutsche Securities valued DRDGold on a sum-of-the-parts discounted cash flow (DCF) basis, discounting each asset's cash flows at a weighted average cost of capital of 9.3% over the asset's reserve life.
It estimated a $409m discounted cash flow value and a Net Asset Value of $459m for DRD Gold.
"To derive our price target, we apply a 0.85 price/discounted cash flow exit multiple - (representing a 15% discount to the South African gold majors) - to the discount cash flow value of the group's operating assets, resulting in a market value of $397m."
The analyst assumed the company had 376m shares in issue.
Ismail said the valuation covered both the Mintails East Rand Joint Venture and the Top Star Dump, but they attached no value to the group's Blyvoor uranium assets until more details were made available.
Risks to Deutsche's valuation of the company included power capacity problems in South Africa, especially given DRD Gold's high volume surface operations. Any failure on the pumping circuit could result in blockages that were difficult to clear on the surface pipelines.
Deutsche had tried to compensate for this risk, but feared the situation could worsen.
DRD also held deep level gold mining risk and was exposed to government enforced health and safety compliance - posing a risk to mining volumes.
Upside potential included uranium and sulphuric acid opportunities earmarked for extraction from the East Rand tailings project.
"In addition, there is the probability of some positive restructuring at the group's underground ERPM operations," said Ismail.
Mintails could consolidate gold tailings on West Rand
Mintails says consolidating mine tailings of several major South African gold companies on the West Rand would reduce treatment costs as well as their environmental footprint.
Author: Tessa Kruger
Posted: Tuesday , 01 Apr 2008
Mintails South Africa could pursue the consolidation of gold tailings on the West Rand to form a company similar to its Ergo tailings retreatment operation on the East Rand as the combination of resources and skills in one large complex would simply make sense.
Lloyd Birrell, Mintails Director of Special Projects, told Mineweb Tuesday the company supported the potential consolidation of Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti, Newco (a new vehicle established by Harmony Gold and the Pamodzi Resources Fund), DRD Gold and Mintails' tailings on the West Rand, based on the model of Ergo Mining's treatment operation on the East Rand.
He said it would make a "great deal of commercial sense" to combine tailings owned by the major gold players on the West Rand as it would require only one site, one mining plant and less of the already scarce skills in the area of extraction.
The combined tailings of the major players would amount to more than 1.5 billion tonnes - almost the same size as Ergo's gold tailings resource that will build up to an annual tailings retreatment rate of 15 million tonnes by mid-2009. Ergo Mining is a joint venture between Mintails SA and DRDGold SA. It has the largest tailings treatment facility in the world.
Birrell said that Harmony Gold CEO Bernard Swanepoel has joined the Mintails board, bringing strong strategic experience, which could play a part in bringing consolidation on the West Rand about. "Swanepoel is working with Peter (director Peter Chapman) to develop opportunities there," he said.
Importantly, consolidation on the West Rand could reduce the average cost of reclamation and deposition treatment "under one large footprint".
"There is potential for consolidation into one complex, although we don't know what the other players' thoughts are. The same economic and engineering logic as that of the East Rand's operation would apply."
Birrell added that the environmental need to start clearing slime dams containing minerals could prompt consolidation among the various players. Tailings consolidation on the West Rand could cover the entire West Rand as Ergo covers an area of 60km.
Mintails is continuing discussions regarding a proposed super dump deposition complex on the West Rand.
As mines go deeper, spotlight’s falling once more on ice technology
By: Leandi Rostoll
Published: 28 Mar 08 - 10:12
A 25-year-old mine-cooling technology using ice is back in the spotlight. The fundamental driver is that a kilogram of ice is able to take up much more heat than a kilogram of cold water. Also, pumping costs are cut when ice-cooling systems are used over water-cooling systems, which is a major energy and cost consideration.
Rock temperatures at South Africa’s deepening mines reach 60 °C. For miners to be able to work at acceptable temperatures, the air has to be cooled down to 28 °C.
In most instances, cooled water has been used, but now South African gold-mining has reached the point where ice is a serious option for any new deep mine, says pioneering researcher Professor John Sheer.
Once a mine is 3 000 m deep, the balance tips in favour of using ice, says Steven Bluhm, CEO of Bluhm Burton Engineering (BBE), a consulting engineering company focusing on mine ventilation, refrigeration and cooling.
While ice cooling has featured at DRDGold’s East Rand Proprietary Mine (ERPM) and AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine for some time, Gold Fields is now leading an ice renaissance in opting for this form of cooling at No 3 shaft and No 4 shaft at the group’s Kloof gold mine, on the Far West Rand.
Allied Nevada Intersects 650 Feet of 0.027 and 615 Feet of 0.032 opt Gold Equivalent in 2 Holes in the Fire and Brimstone Oxide Zones at Hycroft
Thursday March 27, 6:06 pm ET
Gold Price Lifts Tailings Project's Viability
By Charlotte Mathews
19 Mar 2008 at 11:19 AM GMT-04:00
JOHANNESBURG (Business Day) -- The current gold price of about R260,000/kg ($1,000/oz) would enable joint venture partners DRDGold [Nasdaq:DROOY; JSE:DRD] and Mintails [ASX:MLI] to recover their R477 million ($59.5 million) capital investment in the first phase of the Ergo tailings retreatment venture faster than initially projected, DRDGold SA CEO Niel Pretorius said yesterday.
DRDGold and Australian-listed Mintails each own 50% of a company formed last year to refurbish the Ergo tailings treatment plant at Brakpan formerly owned by AngloGold Ashanti.
Tailings are the residue of old mining operations which can yield more ore using modern extraction methods.
The project could treat up to 1.7 billion tonnes of material and extract 15 million ounces of gold, based on estimated resources held in 54 tailings dams in the area.
Initial modelling of a first phase, treating 15 million tonnes of material a year, was based on conservative assumptions, including a gold price of about R120,000/kg ($424.44/oz) and costs of R18/tonne ($2.2/tonne), which have since risen to R21/tonne because of increases in the costs of steel and labour.
Pretorius said Ergo hoped to pour its first gold by the end of this year. By the middle of next year the plant should be producing about 75,000 ounces of gold a year.
A feasibility study is under way into the viability of also recovering uranium and sulphuric acid from the tailings. The study should be completed within a year.
DRDGold has sufficient funding for the first phase of Ergo’s gold retreatment operation through to next year. A second phase is under consideration, which would refurbish a second carbon-in-leach circuit, expand processing capacity to 30-million tons a year, and construct an additional tailings facility.
Ergo operations director Charles Symons said Ergo had the elements needed for a successful dump retreatment business. Once the dumps were moved and treated, land would be freed for other uses, and the partners had formed a property development company to consider those options, he said.
The project was given the go-ahead on a forecast gold price of R125,000/kg and an estimated operating cost of R18/t of material treated. The current gold price is around R260,000/kg while the operating cost estimate has been raised to just R20,4/t.
Still to come is the development of further operations at Ergo to recover uranium and sulphuric acid from the dumps it owns. The Brakpan plant has both a uranium recovery plant and an acid recovery plant but Ergo has not yet assessed their current state.
A bankable feasibility study is to be completed this year which, if favourable, could lead to the commissioning of both uranium and acid plants during 2011. Ergo management could not provide any estimate of the likely cost of such developments at this stage.
Son of Ergo
Posted: Tue, 18 Mar 2008
[miningmx.com] -- AngloGold Ashanti former East Rand Gold and Uranium (Ergo) gold recovery plant at Brakpan on the East Rand should be commissioned from October by its new owners – DRDGOLD and Mintails.
All going to plan, the first gold bar should be poured before Christmas as the refurbished plant starts treating the initial 171 million tonne (mt) tranche of the total amount of 1.7 billion tonnes of tailings dump material the two partners now own on the East Rand.
The Ergo plant could also prove to be a pathfinder in terms of the debate now underway over the jurisdiction of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) concerning dump retreatment operations.
That has been triggered by the judgement handed down in favour of De Beers by the Bloemfontein High Court in December following a dispute over treatment of dumps at the diamond group’s defunct Jagersfontein mine in the Free State.
The judgement overturned a decision by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) to grant a prospecting right over the Jagersfontein dumps to a junior company called Ataqua Mining. It ruled that the MPRDA did not apply to the dumps at Jagersfontein.
According to Hulme Scholes, a lawyer specialising in mining issues as a partner at Werksmans, the judgement means that, as a general principle of law, every dump in South Africa can be mined without having to apply for a mining right.
The implications of that scenario include not having to pay the royalty to the State being proposed in the Royalties Bill as well as not having to bring a BEE partner on board. Dump retreatment companies would also not have to deal with all the DME’s complex requirements on social and labour plans.
It’s the proposed royalty payment – which in terms of the latest draft of the Royalties Bill would be 4,5% or higher – which has focussed Ergo management’s attention because Ergo has already applied for conversion of its “old order” rights.
Mintails director Lloyd Birrell told Miningmx: "a considerable amount of doubt over the MPRDA has been created by the High Court decision on the Jagersfontein dumps.
“We are not looking for a confrontation and we will obviously comply with the laws of the country. But either the MPRDA applies to dump retreatment operations or it does not apply.
“We are in the process of taking serious legal advice over the position concerning the Ergo development and the MPRDA.”
Birrell said the key issue for Ergo was the proposed royalty payment.
“DRDGOLD already has a BEE partner which will cover its exposure to Ergo. Mintails is currently considering its options regarding a BEE partner.
“We don’t see why Mintails shareholders should be penalised through having to pay a punitive royalty to the State if we do not have to.”
Mintails, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, is setting up a similar dump retreatment operation on the West Rand called Wergo (West Rand Gold and Uranium) which it owns outright.
The rejuvenation of Ergo began when mining entrepreneur Peter Skeat bought the two mothballed Ergo treatment plants – at Brakpan and Daggafontein – from AngloGold Ashanti for R46.4m.
Skeat merged his holding company – Skeat Gold Mining – with Mintails in December 2006. Mintails then teamed up with DRDGOLD which owned huge volumes of dump material on the East Rand and bought further dumps from AngloGold Ashanti.
The 50/50 partnership with DRDGOLD applies only to the operations of the Brakpan plant because sections of the Daggafontein plant are being relocated to the Wergo operation.
Ergo’s plans at this stage are to build up to a treatment rate of 1.25mt of material per month at which rate the plant will produce 75,000oz of gold annually from mid-2009. The operation will employ 200 workers and the total cost of the project is R477m.