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Witwatersrand gold fields – South Africa – White Rivers Exploration projects

On 7 September 2023 Lexington Gold announced the acquisition of a 76% interest in White Rivers Exploration (Pty) Ltd, (WRE).

  1. Technical summary of WRE’s projects

WRE is a major tenement holder in the Witwatersrand gold fields, with tenement interests covering 10 prospecting right applications and certain existing licences, which are grouped into five projects, including the Jelani Resources JV, which is an incorporated joint venture arrangement with Avgold Limited a subsidiary of Harmony Gold. The areas of interest represent brownfield and greenfield targets predominantly located in the Free State Province and one project situated in the North West Province. The main commodity to be explored for is gold, with uranium as a possible by-product.

The Witwatersrand gold fields have accounted for more than a third of the world’s total gold production since 1886 and, collectively, represent the world’s largest single gold producing district. It is estimated that the Witwatersrand gold fields have produced over 2 billion ounces of gold during over a century of mining and that approximately 1.2 billion ounces of gold still remain.

WRE has a database with a vast number of borehole logs (approximately 2,500 mother holes) and associated assays from historically drilled holes in the Witwatersrand Basin. Such borehole database was assembled from 25 different sources and is considered by WRE to be the most comprehensive collection of surface Witwatersrand exploration drilling data within South Africa.

WRE’s existing licences and prospecting right applications are divided into five projects (see Figure 1 below) namely:              

  1. Jelani Resources JV (JV with Harmony Gold);
  2. Kroonstad;
  3. Bothaville NE;
  4. Klerksdorp South; and
  5. Ventersburg.

Jelani Resources JV:

The Jelani Resources JV is located adjacent to Harmony Gold’s Target Mine lease area in the north-western portion of the Welkom Goldfield. It comprises one Prospecting Right and is currently jointly held by WRE (65%) and subsidiaries of Harmony Gold (35%). The Prospecting Right covers an area of 9.568km2 (see Figure 2 below).

In 2018, WRE established an independently estimated gold resource estimate attributable to the Jelani Resources JV but such estimation has not yet been formally verified or accepted by the partners. Although not independently audited, the resource estimate comprised 6.02Moz of gold, of which approximately 2.95Moz would potentially be attributable to WRE if all hurdles in respect of the JV are ultimately achieved, including successful feasibility studies, a decision to mine being made by the JV partners and if WRE choses to participate in the funding of future development costs to retain a 49 per cent interest in the JV. The Mineral Resources within the one kilometre Buffer Zone are attributable solely to Harmony Gold (100%). Harmony Gold has indicated that the Jelani Resources JV, subject to the successful completion of a bankable feasibility study, will be afforded the opportunity to mine the resources in the Buffer Zone on tribute once a commercially acceptable future agreement has been negotiated between the parties.

Non-JORC/Non-SAMREC compliant resource estimates

WRE’s internally estimated non-JORC/non-SAMREC compliant resources for all five of its projects are set out in Table 1 below.

Table 1: WRE’s non-code compliant Resource estimates derived utilising WRE’s internal historical database

ProjectMtGrade cmg /t Grade Au g/tAu Moz
Jelani Resources JV *14.187176.472.95
Bothaville NE6.83303.330.73
Klerksdorp South0.52
Total:   37.54
  • * – WRE’s attributable resource post a potential future decision to mine
  • (WRE assumed retained interest of 49%; Harmony Gold 51%)

WRE’s Kroonstad project, has an independently estimated non-code compliant gold exploration target of between 6.06 million ounces and 62.41 million ounces with a gold grade of between 4.96 g/t and 11.54 g/t and potentially constitutes a new Witwatersrand goldfield.

Table 2: WRE’s Prospecting Licences and Prospecting Right Applications as at 7 September 2023

ProjectTenementArea (hectares)StatusExpiry date
JelaniResourcesFS 30/5/1/1/2/10350 PR956.76Renewal AwardedNote 2
KroonstadFS 30/5/1/1/2/889 PR13845.77Renewal under appeal  Note 2
KroonstadFS 30/5/1/1/2/10520 PR12429.45Renewal under appealNote 2
KroonstadFS 30/5/1/1/2/10519 PR22193.1Executed28-May-24
BothavilleFS 30/5/1/1/2/10578 PR9510Executed03-Mar-24
BothavilleFS 30/5/1/1/2/10579 PR9119.58Executed17-Mar-24
VentersburgFS 30/5/1/1/2/888 PR8418.7Executed09-Dec-23
VentersburgFS 30/5/1/1/2/10489 PR8965.9Executed09-Dec-23
VentersburgFS 30/5/1/1/2/10528 PR2248.6Executed21-Aug-24
KlerksdorpNW 30/5/1/1/2/11335 PR1816.9Renewal under appealNote 2
Total 89504.79 ha  

1 In South Africa renewals are for 3 years from granting of renewal rights.
2 Renewals under appeal by WRE following an initial rejection due to technical non-compliance of original renewals previously submitted by WER. New applications by Lexington Gold SA have also been submitted over the same areas.

Figure 1WRE’s tenement interests located in the Witwatersrand Goldfields (including major estimated historic gold production)

Figure 2Location of Jelani Resources JV relative to Harmony Gold’s existing Target Mine operationsHistorically mined out areas, shaft positions and underground developments are indicated.

  • Proposed Work Programme

The Company’s Directors believe that a multi-million ounce JORC 2012/SAMREC compliant Mineral Resource Estimate (“MRE”) can be established in respect of WRE’s asset portfolio and intends, subject to funding, for the Company to:

  • Undertake detailed analysis and modelling of the existing geological database and extensive drilling data set; and
  • Establish and implement the requisite work required to convert the current non-JORC/non-SAMREC complaint Mineral Resources into a code compliant MRE including verification and duplication drilling, as appropriate, as well as the re-sampling and assaying of historical drill core, where possible.

Furthermore, the Directors plan to unlock value from the Jelani Resources JV by engaging and working closely with Harmony Gold with the aim of progressing the project into future gold production.

Whilst WRE has internally estimate that it potentially has over 37 million ounces of non-code compliant gold resources across over its projects (see Table 1 above) there can be no guarantee that the planned exploration and technical work by the Company, subject to funding, will be sufficient to establish JORC (2012) compliant Mineral Resources.