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Driefontein Gold Mine

Fatal Injury Frequency Rate improved by 38 per cent.
Over two million fatality free shifts recorded.
Completed preparatory work for 4 shaft pillar extraction.


Location: Driefontein is situated some 70 km west of Johannesburg, at latitude 26°24’S and longitude 27°30’E, near Carletonville in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. The site is accessed via the N12 highway between Johannesburg and Potchefstroom. Geologically the mine is located on the North Western Rim of the Witwatersrand Basin. Infrastructure: It comprises eight producing shaft systems that mine different contributions from pillars and open ground, and three gold plants of which 1 plant processes mainly underground ore, 2 plant processes both underground ore and surface material and 3 plant processes surface material only. Geology: Three primary reefs are exploited; the Ventersdorp Contact Reef (VCR) located at the top of the Central Rand Group; the Carbon Leader Reef (CL) near the base and the Middelvlei Reef (MR), which stratigraphically occurs some 50 metres to 75 metres above the CL. Mine type and depth: It is a large, well-established deep to ultra deep level gold mine to 50 level (the lowest working level) some 3,400 metres below surface. Employees in service: The mine has 15,501 permanent employees and 2,244 contractors.


During the year under review, seven employees lost their lives in four mining related accidents. Of the seven deceased, six were fatally injured in seismic induced falls of ground and one in a tramming related accident. The fatal injury frequency rate improved from 0.26 in F2008 to 0.16 in F2009. The mine continued with the ‘Masiphephe’ safety programme during the year, and overall safety performance improved on all indices year on year. On 12 June 2009, the mine recorded in excess of 2.85 million fatality free shifts, which is a record achievement for the mine and set a new benchmark for deep level gold mining. The lost day injury frequency rate improved from 7.02 for F2008 to 4.90 in F2009 with about a third of accidents caused by falls of ground, which remain the major cause of accidents.

During F2009, Driefontein received, and complied with, various instructions to stop operations (known as Section 54s) from the Principal Inspector of the Gauteng area of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). Following additional inspections, including the Health and Safety Audits that ensure legal compliance of the mine, the DMR has expressed its satisfaction with the mine’s remedial measures. Driefontein was also exposed to the external audit by DuPont as well as an internal audit on the full compliance safety management system. Remedial action plans which address the recommendations emanating from these audits will provide the platform for continuous health and safety improvements.

Driefontein maintained its OHSAS18001 and ISO14001:2004 (Environmental Management System) accreditation through the various external audits conducted in F2009.


Gold production decreased by 11 per cent from 28,865 kilograms in F2008 to 25,814 kilograms in F2009. This was due to two major interventions, to improve safety performance and address business interruptions. Firstly, it was necessary to address the rapidly deteriorating backlog in secondary support at 1, 4 and 5 shafts and secondly, a major pillar and remnant pillar mining review led to the suspension of stoping at 6 tertiary and 10 shaft and the stopping of numerous high grade pillars across the mine. These interventions had a severe impact on gold production.

As a result underground tons milled decreased from 3.27 million tons in F2008 to 3.14 million tons in F2009. In order to fully utilise mill capacity surface tons milled increased from 2.71 million tons in F2008 to 3.08 million tons in F2009.

Main development decreased from 27,459 metres in F2008 to 20,074 metres in F2009 due to the redeployment of development crews to address the historical backlog secondary support.

Revenue increased from R5,502 million in F2008 to R6,546 million in F2009. The higher gold price received being partially offset by the lower production.

Operating costs increased by 20 per cent from R2,933 million in F2008 to R3,531 million in F2009. This increase was mainly due to higher electricity tariffs, labour costs and an increase in raw material prices, especially in the first half of F2009.

Total cash cost increased from R96,293 per kilogram (US$412/oz) in F2008 to R129,837 per kilogram (US$448/oz) in F2009 as a result of the higher costs and lower production.

Operating profit, before amortisation, increased from R2,569 million in F2008 to R3,015 million in F2009. Operating margin decreased slightly from 47 per cent in F2008 to 46 per cent in F2009.

Capital expenditure increased from R1,016 million in F2008 to R1,034 million in F2009. The majority of this increase was due to housing upgrades and an increase in capitalised ore reserve development.

Notional cash expenditure increased from R136,806 per kilogram (US$585/oz) in F2008 to R176,838 per kilogram (US$610/oz) in F2009.

F2010 Focus Areas

  • Safe production management;
  • Eliminating the backlog on secondary support;
  • Volume, value and quality;
  • Increasing mining flexibility by accelerating development;
  • Advancing the optimisation study on mining below 50 level;
  • Reducing electricity consumption; and
  • Advancing the commitments as set out in the Driefontein Social and Labour Plan.

Fatal Injury Frequency Rates
per million man hours worked


Driefontein Gold Mine

          2009   2008   2007   2006  
  Main development   km   20.1   27.5   28.0   27.4  
  Main on-reef (development)   km   4.1   5.8   5.3   4.2  
    (value) cm g/t   877   1,242   1,307   1,454  
  Area mined   '000m   530   579   653   680  
  Productivity   m2 /TEC*   2.6   2.8   3.2   3.4  
  Tons milled Underground '000   3,137   3,273   3,812   3,867  
    Surface '000   3,080   2,708   2,840   3,000  
    Total '000   6,217   5,981   6,652   6,867  
  Yield Underground g/t   7.5   8.1   7.6   8.1  
    Surface g/t   0.7   0.8   1.0   1.4  
    Combined g/t   4.2   4.8   4.8   5.2  
  Gold produced Underground kg   23,658   26,591   28,815   31,441  
    Surface kg   2,156   2,274   2,803   4,314  
    Total kg   25,814   28,865   31,618   35,755  
    Total '000oz   830   928   1,017   1,150  
  Operating costs Underground R/ton   1,044   830   653   579  
    Surface R/ton   83   79   65   60  
    Total R/ton   568   490   402   352  
  Gold sold   kg   25,814   28,865   31,618   35,755  
  Total cash cost   US$/oz   448   412   348   315  
      R/kg   129,837   96,293   80,457   64,870  
  Notional cash expenditure   US$/oz   610   585   476   403  
      R/kg   176,838   136,806   110,269   82,872  
  Net earnings   Rm   1,421.3   1,233.3   1,004.3   645.0  
  Capital expenditure   Rm   1,034.4   1,016.4   815.0   543.3  

*TEC = Total Employees Costed