Driefontein is a large, mature, shallow to ultra-deep level gold mining and processing operation located in the Far West Rand Goldfield of the Witwatersrand Basin, near the town of Carletonville in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, 70km west of Johannesburg.
Statistics as at 31 December 2022
Life of mine
All-in sustaining cost
employees and contractors
* Elevated costs due to the industrial action during the 2022 year and not reflective of a normalised year
Driefontein was one of the assets acquired when Gold Fields unbundled its South African operations in February 2013. Mining operations have been carried out in the Far West Rand goldfields since the late 19th century and at Driefontein since the 1930s.
At 31 December 2022, Driefontein had total gold Mineral Reserves of 3.0Moz and gold Mineral Resources of 10.9Moz.
A closer look
- Exploration activities from 1933 to 1939 culminated in the registration of West Driefontein Mining Company in 1945
- West Driefontein started milling ore in 1952 following shaft sinking
- Further exploration lead to the adjoining East Driefontein Gold Mining Company Limited in 1968, with first production in 1972
- In 1981 East Driefontein Gold Mining Company Ltd became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Driefontein Consolidated Ltd
- In 1999, Gold Fields Limited obtained full control of Driefontein Gold Mine by buying AngloGold Ashanti Limited’s 21.5% shareholding
- In 2012, the conventional South African assets of Gold Fields Limited were unbundled into Sibanye Gold Limited
- In 2014, Sibanye-Stillwater completed the PFS of the Driefontein No. 5 Shaft Drop-down Project and drop-down development
commenced. This decline project was deferred in 2018
- In 2019 the No. 4 Shaft Pillar extraction project commenced
- The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated national lockdown halted all production from April to the middle of May 2020, at which point a gradual build-up in production was initiated
- In 2021, successful exploration of the secondary VCR at No.1 Shaft and No. 5 Shaft increased Mineral Reserves by >0.3Moz. Ongoing success has resulted in an extension of LoM to 2032
Driefontein consists of four vertical operating shafts, No. 1 Shaft, No. 4 Shaft, No. 5 Shaft and No. 8 Shaft, extending down to 50 Level (the lowest working level) at No. 5 Shaft, approximately 3,300m below surface.
Ore from all the shafts is processed at Driefontein No. 1 Plant. The production from No. 4 Shaft and No. 5 Shaft is conveyed underground to No. 2 Shaft on 22 and 24 levels for hoisting.
The Driefontein mining complex has three fissure water pumping shafts: No. 8 Shaft, No. 10 Shaft, and North Shaft (next to No. 8 Shaft), of which only No. 8 Shaft is still operational. North Shaft pumps bulk fissure water for treatment to potable water standards for own use. Driefontein No. 10 Shaft has been placed on care and maintenance and is only maintained to pump fissure water. These shafts combined pump approximately 100Ml/day to prevent the operations from flooding.
The Driefontein operation has been in production since the 1950s with the last shafts being commissioned in the late 1990s. The underground development is extensive, as can be expected of a mature mine of this size.
All footwall access development is mined using mechanical rail-bound methods that are well understood. All stoping is completed using conventional, narrow tabular methods and as such is relatively labour intensive.
Driefontein is operated under a converted mining right in terms of the MPRDA with DMRE Ref No GP30/5/1/2/2(51) MR (Driefontein MR), valid from 30 January 2007 to 29 January 2037, for gold and associated minerals, in respect of a mining area totalling 85.61km².
There are two active TSFs, Driefontein TSF 1 and Driefontein TSF 2, both being fed with a mix of underground and SRD tailings:
- Driefontein TSF 1 has available capacity of 10.1Mt with an estimated LoM depositional requirement of 6.0Mt, resulting in surplus capacity of 4.1Mt
- Driefontein TSF 2 has available capacity of 10.0Mt with an estimated LoM depositional requirement of 6.0Mt, resulting in surplus capacity of 4.0Mt
The No. 4 Shaft Pillar Extraction Project is in execution with initial wide raise development currently taking place in the outer rim of the pillar area. Final extraction has been sequenced to coincide with the extraction of the remaining Mineral Reserves on the lower levels.
Continuous exploration drilling of the VCR at No. 1 Shaft and No. 5 Shaft led to an increase in Mineral Reserves of more than 0.2Moz during 2022. This exploration programme is ongoing and is likely to continue playing a critical role in securing LoM extensions at these shafts.
- Mineral resources and mineral reserves report 2022
- Delivering value from our operations and projects
- Fact sheet: SLPs: Summary of projects in South Africa
- Driefontein Social and Labour Plan 2017-2021 (English)
- Driefontein Social and Labour Plan 2017-2021 (isiXhosa)
- Driefontein Social and Labour Plan 2017-2021 (Setswana)