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DRDGOLD Pioneers Sustainable Mining Revolution in South Africa

South African Miner DRDGOLD Expands into Green Metals and PGM Recovery

by Adenike Adeodun

DRDGOLD, a Johannesburg and New York-listed company renowned for its gold recovery expertise from waste, is now diversifying into the recovery of battery metals and platinum group metals (PGMs). At the Swiss Mining Institute in Zurich, CEO Niël Pretorius and Group Financial Manager Mpho Mashatola actively presented the company’s ambitious growth strategy. This strategy marks a significant shift from traditional gold mining to multi-commodity reprocessing and rehabilitation of mine tailings.

According to a report by Mining Weekly, the company is aggressively unlocking value from green metals and PGMs by leveraging its partnership with Sibanye-Stillwater, a major player in PGMs and green metals production that holds a controlling interest in DRDGOLD. The company’s strategy also includes partnerships with other South African mining companies and exploring global opportunities.

Founded in 1895 as an underground mining operation, DRDGOLD has transformed into a leader in mega-volume tailings retreatment. Annually, the company processes 25–30 million tonnes of material in its East Rand and West Rand units in South Africa’s Witwatersrand Gold Basin. This process effectively recovers gold and provides a sustainable solution for lands impacted by gold extraction, reversing the negative environmental legacy of mining.

In line with circular economy principles, DRDGOLD generates wealth by eliminating waste and reducing its carbon footprint through green energy initiatives. The company is committed to a renewable energy project pipeline, targeting 60 MW of solar power capacity.

DRDGOLD’s operations include highly mechanized high-pressure hydro-mining and recovering gold from slurry mixes in an automated process. The company actively manages discarded tailings using contemporary practices to minimize environmental impact.

Committed to community development, DRDGOLD has consistently declared dividends for 16 years, directly improving host communities’ lives through poverty alleviation and educational initiatives. Its broad-based agricultural livelihoods (BBL) program has engaged over 11,200 participants since 2018, transforming dumping areas into productive spaces.

In the 2022 financial year, DRDGOLD invested R55.2 million in socio-economic development, including R6.4 million in the BBL program. Its environmental efforts have achieved major dust suppression, land rehabilitation, and a 61% reduction in potable water use over a decade.

Financially strong, DRDGOLD ended the last 12 months with nearly R2.5 billion in cash and equivalents, earning a R1.2 billion profit on R5.5 billion in revenue. The company’s capital investment strategy includes a new mega tailings storage facility, the ongoing Brakpan-Withok tailings storage facility (TSF), and renewable energy generation.

Looking ahead to the 2024 financial year, DRDGOLD is projecting gold production of 165,000 to 175,000 ounces at a cash operating cost of R770,000/kg. The company plans to complete its R2 billion solar power project and expand operations in the East Rand and Far West Gold Recoveries, which are crucial to its growth and sustainability strategy.

As of June 30, DRDGOLD boasted a market capitalization of R17.2 billion.

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