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Gold Fields and Gold One in MOU to reprocess tailings

Gold One International Limited and Gold Fields Limited have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to investigate the viability of concurrently reprocessing their combined surface tailings deposits, located on the West Rand region of South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin. Gold One and Gold Fields currently operate mines in the West Rand, a region with a long history of gold and uranium mining.

In terms of the MOU, Gold One and Gold Fields will jointly investigate the feasibility of establishing a Joint Venture into which both parties will contribute surface assets for retreatment.  These assets are expected to comprise in excess of 700 million tonnes and represent over 60% of the total tailings material in the region.  The parties aim to complete a detailed scoping study by the middle of this year, following which a decision will be taken on whether to progress the study to a feasibility level. 

Should the Joint Venture proceed, the intention is to reclaim and retreat the historical tailings material and current tailings to recover residual gold, uranium and sulphur.  A key objective of the project will be to address the re-deposition of the residues in accordance with modern sustainable deposition practices, ultimately supporting mine closure in an environmentally sustainable manner.

As at December 2010, Gold Fields declared a mineral resource of 475.6 million tonnes at its tailings storage facilities, which includes gold mineral resources of 4.5 million ounces and uranium mineral resources of 53.6 million pounds*.

Rand Uranium had earlier completed a comprehensive definitive feasibility study on the processing of the Cooke Tailings Deposit for the extraction of both gold and uranium (including 70% of detailed and already completed engineering design).  The primary focus of the feasibility study is the construction of a uranium metallurgical plant to treat the Cooke Tailings Deposit.  In addition, during the December 2011 quarter, Gold One stated that it commenced assessing the potential treatment of several other surface tailings deposits that exist on the mining and prospecting licenses acquired from Rand Uranium.

The combined consideration of the Gold One, Rand Uranium and Gold Fields studies, as well as the possibility of utilising existing and planned metallurgical plant infrastructure, will allow the companies to significantly fast-track a joint economic assessment of the reprocessing of the combined tailings deposits.

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