City of gold digs for the precious metal again

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Gold breaking the $900 (R6087) an ounce barrier raises hopes of Joburg's mines reopening again.

The chances of this happening rest on Central Rand Gold (Cenrand), which listed on London's and Johannesburg's stock exchanges on November 8. While the gold price has moved from under $800 to over $900 an ounce since November, Cenrand's share price has plummeted 20percent to R16 from its R20 listing price.

Cenrand's creation was prompted by research done by Witwatersrand University mining geology professors Morris and Richard Viljoen. Known in mining circles as the Viljoen Twins, the Wits professors lead their students to do research showing that modern technology along with gold's return to favour with investors made gold mining in Johannesburg viable.

After producing more than a third of the world's gold, Johannesburg's mines ceased operating in the '70s. Gold production since then has been limited to reprocessing mine dumps.

The Viljoen Twins' research piqued the interest of an Australian company, Rand Quest Syndicate, which transformed itself into Cenrand.

Thanks to government's "use it or lose it" mining rights policy, Cenrand now owns prospecting rights of a wide swathe of central rand gold fields comprising 11 contiguous tenement areas. These include Consolidated Main Reef, Langlaagte, Crown Mines, Anglodeeps and City Deep.