Believe 77-year-old Blyvoor gold mine may contain 9 million ounces of gold.
At Blyvooruitzicht, a 77-year-old gold mine southwest of Johannesburg, almost everything had been stolen except gold-bearing ore in the looting after the operation was closed in 2013.
Now, New York University graduates Bastiat Viljoen, 31, and his brother Dane, who was an intern at Goldman Sachs Group, want to revive the ailing mine, which they say may contain 9 million ounces of gold, worth almost $11 billion at current prices. They are partly financed by South African mining entrepreneur Peter Skeat.
With their backgrounds, the Viljoens and their partners would look more at home in Silicon Valley than South Africa’s rust belt of aging gold mines, some of the deepest and most dangerous in the world.
The challenge at Blyvooruitzicht, which means happy prospect in Afrikaans, is formidable: to rebuild a mine and win over a restive local community, who described the area as a war zone when it was overrun by thieves and illegal miners after falling into liquidation in 2013, Johannesburg’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in 2014.
“We’re trying to bring a start-up mentality to an industry that’s been around for thousands of years,” said Dane Viljoen, 28, in an interview at the mine’s head office under broken light bulbs and surrounded by mine maps from the 1950s. “We’ve been gifted this reset button. It’s a massive opportunity.”
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