The Cooke operation is situated in the West Wits Line of the Witwatersrand Basin, near the town of Randfontein approximately 35km south-west of Johannesburg, in the Gauteng province of South Africa.
Statistics as at 31 December 2022
Life of mine
All-in sustaining cost
employees and contractors
Current operations comprise the Randfontein Surface Operation (RSO), which mines and re-treats historic tailings through the Cooke Gold Plant.
At 31 December 2022, Cooke had surface gold Mineral Reserves of 0.1Moz and Mineral Resources of 1.7Moz. In addition, it had a uranium Mineral Resource of 39.6Mlb.
A closer look
The Rand Surface Operation (RSO) is a mature, established and ongoing reprocessing operation. The mining method is via monitored high-pressure water jets.
The Cooke operation was previously a large underground mining complex, consisting of four vertical production shafts, but the final underground workings were placed on care and maintenance during 2017.
Ezulwini Gold Plant (at No. 4 Shaft) is used as a toll treating facility, catering to both external and other internal operations. At the Ezulwini plant, there is an independent uranium recovery circuit, which is currently on care and maintenance, constructed in the early 2000s.
All the permanent infrastructure required to mine and process the surface Mineral Reserves declared in support of the LoM plan, is already established and in use. The Cooke plant has a design capacity of 400ktpa, while the Ezulwini plant can process 200ktpa.
Rand Uranium (Pty) Ltd (a subsidiary of Sibanye Gold Limited) holds a converted mining right over the operations known as Cooke No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in terms of the MPRDA, under DMRE Ref No GP30/5/1/2/2/07 MR (Cooke No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 MR), valid from 18 December 2007 to 17 December 2037 and covering a total area of 78.75km².
An application was submitted in terms of the provisions of Section 102 of the MPRDA in 2015 for the areas covering Cooke 4 South TSF and Millsite tailings complex, to be incorporated into the Cooke No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 mining right area. This application is not yet finalised.
Rand Uranium (Pty) Ltd also holds a converted mining right over the operation known as Randfontein Surface Operation in terms of the MPRDA, under DMRE Ref No GP30/5/1/2/2/173 MR (RSO MR) valid from 7 May 2009 to 6 May 2039, with a total area of 31.30km².
Ezulwini Mining Company (Pty) Ltd (a subsidiary of Sibanye Gold Limited) holds a mining right in terms of the provisions of Section 23 of the MPRDA over the operation known as Cooke No. 4 (Ezulwini), under DMRE Ref No GP30/5/1/2/2/38 MR (Ezulwini MR), valid from 20 November 2006 to 19 November 2036 and covering a total area of 37.18km².
Tailings from Cooke Plant are deposited into historic, unrehabilitated open pits connected to the old underground workings of the historic Randfontein Estates Gold Mine as part of the approved EMPR. The volumetric depositional capacity available in these pits, which assumes there is no further storage capacity in the connected underground workings, is used to constrain the current three year LoM. To date there is no indication that the tailings are beaching and the material is still filling the underground voids.
The Ezulwini North TSF is situated next to Ezulwini Plant and has an available capacity of 17.3Mt. The LoM depositional requirements for this TSF are 2.2Mt which leaves a surplus capacity of 15.1Mt.
A focus for the operations is to secure additional tailings depositional capacity that could support an increase in the reported three years LoM. The Millsite TSF complex, which is currently being exploited represents the bulk of the reported Mineral Resources, and contains a total of more than 100Mt of Mineral Resources, potentially supporting a >20y LoM.
The Cooke uranium Mineral Resources are contained within three historic TSFs situated on the Cooke mineral rights. They are classified as “moveable assets” and as such the right to mine is not tied to the mining right. The uranium Mineral Resources are a by product of gold mining at the historic Cooke operations. These surface uranium Mineral Resources represents a key strategic opportunity due to the proximity of the existing Cooke and Ezulwini gold and uranium processing plants. A new study, currently at pre-feasibility stage, has been initiated to determine the optimal extraction strategy for the Cooke TSF.