AP Photo/Michael Probst
Johannesburg - Precious metals producer Pan African Resources said on Monday that the R40 million refurbishments of underground shafts at subsidiary Evander Gold Mines in Mpumalanga would be completed this weekend.

The listed company in February announced the suspension of ­underground operations at Evander to allow for the refurbishment and maintenance of Evander’s 7 and 8 shaft infrastructure.

Last month, Pan African Resources announced that it had reached an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to retrench 976 (30 percent) of Evander’s employees at an estimated cost of R54 million as a result of the refurbishment.

“Pan African is pleased to advise that the refurbishment of the 7 and 8 shaft complex is progressing according to schedule and is expected to be completed on April 15 within the original R40 million cost estimate,” Pan African Resources said.

The refurbishment work included the replacement of the 7 shaft pump columns support infrastructure, the replacement of a damaged section of the main pump column at the 7 shaft, the replacement of the water reticulation system between the 7 and 8 shafts, the removal of redundant shaft steelwork at the 7A and 8 shafts, the repairs to the 7 and 7A shaft bottoms, and an assessment of all other underground infrastructure critical to maintaining and sustaining production.

Read also: Pan African to retrench 30% at Evander

The company said the retrenchment of the 976 workers at Evander was progressing and was due to be completed within a month. The company retrenched the workers because it wanted to reduce the fixed costs of underground operations at Evander. NUM and the company signed the retrenchment agreement, after the facilitation of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on March 10.

At the time, NUM said it had agreed to the agreement as such a move would prevent the closure of the mine, which would have affected more than 2000 employees, most of whom were the union’s members.

Pan African Resources said during the refurbishment period, on-mine management also focused on the preparation of the Evander Mines underground mining areas for re-commencement of mining. This included securing and opening up of stope entrances and travelling ways, opening and securing critical material and development drives, construction of additional underground dams to ensure adequate water storage capacity, improving ventilation system and infrastructure, and retraining of all underground miners to ensure the implementation of a clean, safe and sustainable mining plan.

“Underground mining operations at Evander Mines will recommence following the completion of the refurbishment programme, which is expected on or about April 15, with the hoisting of approximately 6000 tons of mined ore currently stored within the Evander Mines underground infrastructure. The processing of these tons will assist with the expeditious ramp-up of Evander Mines’ underground production profile,” Pan African Resources said.

Pan African Resources shares dropped 0.37 percent on the JSE to close at R2.69.