The Jeanette project, originally established as a mining venture by Anglo American Corporation, is situated in the Free State province of South Africa, an area that has produced approximately 17% of total South African production. The project is situated north-east of the town of Welkom and shares a common boundary with the Target Gold Mine operated by Harmony Gold. The area is an important gold producing region with numerous mines in the triangle between the neighbouring towns of Allanridge, Welkom and Virginia.
Gold was originally discovered in the Free State in the late 1930s but development of mines was initially slow as a result of the Second World War. After the war, capital and equipment remained in short supply but following a successful drilling campaign, a decision was made in 1951 to commence construction of a mine at Jeanette. However, sinking of a main and ventilation shaft was discontinued in 1955 due to adverse market conditions and the discovery of much higher grade ore to the south, at what became the Free State Geduld and Western Holdings mines. At that point, the Anglo American Corporation held a majority stake in the project and diverted its attention to the better prospects further south. It continued to develop its interests to the south with the President Steyn, President Brand, Saaiplaas and Freddies mines. When the project was discontinued, the main shaft had been sunk to a depth of approximately 1,290m and the ventilation shaft to a depth of 1,547m. A limited amount of underground development on reef had also been completed. Sporadic exploration over the area was conducted in the 1970s and 1990s.
In 2001, the project was sold to Harmony Gold as a part of the sale by AngloGold of its FreeGold asset. Harmony Gold chose not to retain the project under a mining right but rather to convert it to a prospecting right in 2008. That same year, Taung Gold entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of the Jeanette project and the prospecting right over the project was registered in the company’s name in November 2013.
On 9 March 2017, the Company announced the results of the pre-feasibility study for the Jeanette project demonstrating that 7.24Moz of gold will be produced at an average AISC of US$392/oz over the project’s 24-year life-of-mine. The capital cost of the mine’s pre-production construction is estimated at US$759 million with a predicted after-tax NPV5% of US$1,550.5m and an after-tax IRR of 20.3% over the mine’s life, with a pay-back period of 6.9 years.
The Environmental Authorisation for the Jeanette project was approved in December 2016 and the mining right was registered at the Mineral and Petroleum Titles Registration office on 6 December 2017.