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New home-grown technology might be the solution to the grim forecast by the CEOs of major gold and platinum mining companies that there will be no more deep-level shafts sunk in SA. And the outlook might not be as bleak as Harmony Gold CEO Peter Steenkamp, Impala Platinum CEO Nico Muller and Anglo American Platinum CEO Chris Griffith painted it at the Joburg Indaba mining conference last week, with conceptual shaft-sinking technology possibly providing an alternative to existing shaft-sinking practices. An unassuming company based in the small mining and farming town of Fochville to the west of Johannesburg, which is a major provider of drilling services to the resources industry around the world, is scrambling to find new technologies to access ore bodies faster, cheaper and safer, and with as few people as possible. Considering a shaft of about 1.5km deep and with a 10m diameter would cost about R20bn to build over 15 years, with another decade or so to recover the capital, invest...

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