"We expanded from a single, lease-bound mining operation to become an independent, world-class gold producer and the gold mining champion in South Africa."
What is the history of Harmony in South Africa?
Harmony has been operating for over 70 years with listings on both the JSE and NYSE and is now the largest gold producer in South Africa by volume.
We expanded from a single, lease-bound mining operation to become an independent, world-class gold producer and the gold mining champion in South Africa. We achieved this growth by acquiring South African operations close to the end of their life, recapitalizing them and then mining for many years to come, creating a sustainable company that benefits a myriad of stakeholders.
Over time, we expanded internationally and operate an open pit mine at Hidden Valley in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We also own 50% of the Wafi-Golpu copper-gold project in PNG, a Tier-1 copper gold project.
Over the past three years, we have added 300 000 higher grade gold ounces to our portfolio through acquisitions while further diversifying our portfolio.
How does Harmony rely on technology and automation to address the challenges of deep-level underground gold mines?
Safety is of paramount importance at Harmony and some of our initiatives include the digitization of reports to inform teams of safety issues such as seismicity. We have implemented electronic winch signalling and locomotive driving information systems and automated Wi-Fi networks keep track of our people at all times, ensuring we monitor no-go zones and can detect and locate any missing workers.
Cooling is critical in deep-level mining to ensure that our employees work in well ventilated areas. We invested in optimizing our cooling capabilities through electricity improvements and automation technologies.
We are also using digital twins for simulation to ensure improved efficiency at the depths we are mining. The goal is to undertake as many activities as possible remotely with hydroelectric machines. Over time, we will be moving away from compressed air as an energy source as it is noisy and highly inefficient. Solar technologies will be an attractive alternative to compressed air, and we are in the process of developing solar power generation capabilities to offset the costs of our large energy consumption needs.
What are your plans for tailings retreatment of Mine Waste Solutions which was acquired from AngloGold Ashanti?
Mine Waste Solution on its own can recover approximately 100,000 ounces per year. We believe that by opening another circuit, we can recover more. We have a vast amount of tailings facilities and will undoubtedly expand our tailings retreatment capabilities. Converting a plant into a tailings retreatment facility is a phenomenal financial investment. In addition, the high-volume nature of this business has drastically improved our emissions, water and electricity intensities and reduced the overall risk profile of our asset portfolio.
What exploration activities are in the pipeline for Harmony in South Africa?
We have various exploration projects in South Africa with some noteworthy ones being the expansions of our Target North mine and Kalgold. An exploration program is underway to confirm the geological model of Target North and further define a potential block of well mineralized Ventersdorp Contact Reef. The surface exploration drilling program completed one borehole, reaching a depth of 3,022 meters and intersecting a well-developed reef. Deflection drilling has begun and will be ramped up in 2022. We also have a large tenement at Kalgold mine, and drilling is currently underway to determine the viability of expanding this open-pit operation.
How would you describe the overall health of the South African mining industry?
The industry has faced some challenges, but the culture surrounding mining is much more upbeat than it has been in the past, especially under the leadership of our current President and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. We believe that we are on the right track to facilitate the rise of the industry again. It is essential for the Mining Charter to remain stable as constant changes bring uncertainty and deter investment. Therefore, stability clauses are imperative. The announcement by the President to lift the cap on self-generation of power is also positive and I believe that this will help address not only the existing electric challenges, but will also help us achieve our ESG targets while lowering our costs.
What are Harmony’s growth strategy and goals for the next two years?
We are focussing on integrating our new assets into our portfolio and believe these have given us great opportunities to extend the life of mine. There are also a number of exciting projects and we are always on the lookout for strategic investment and M&A opportunities. Wafi-Golpu will further drive our growth aspirations and indeed our copper-gold story.