In his commentary on Northam Platinum’s results for the 2017 financial half-year, Chief Executive Paul Dunne says that the standout feature of the first half of F2017 was the good operating performance at Northam’s Booysendal mine on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex and the pace at which growth is being achieved.
“The production run rate of 100 000 PGM ounces in the first half significantly exceeded the mine’s nameplate capacity. From the original mining footprint we believe we have created capital efficient, scalable growth opportunities with long-term benefits for all stakeholders,” he says.
The Booysendal platinum mine (photo: Northam).
“Both the deepening project on the UG2 mine, and work on the Booysendal South mine continued apace. The first blast for the boxcut at Booysendal South was completed in early September 2016 and the mining contract has recently been awarded to begin underground operations in March 2017. The Merensky module at Booysendal North is now complete and producing at 25 000 tonnes per month.”
Commenting on Northam’s Zondereinde operation on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex, Dunne notes that both tonnages and production ounces were affected owing to operational reorganisation measures underground, following the discharge of 357 employees after labour disruptions in June 2016. “This situation is being addressed and we expect to be back to full complement by March 2017. The drop in milled tonnages was exacerbated by an 18-day outage resulting from a mill bearing failure in the UG2 concentrator.”
Dunne says that the development of Booysendal South continues. “With a relatively modest capital programme and small footprint, this brownfields expansion will deliver 250 000 PGM ounces per annum at steady state.”
Dunne also refers to Northam’s proposed acquisition of the Eland platinum mine near Brits from Glencore Operations South Africa for R175 million. “We believe that the Eland orebody, together with the established infrastructure, presents an attractive, low-cost opportunity and a medium-term option for growth,” he says.
Eland’s surface and underground infrastructure including a concentrator with a nameplate capacity of 250 ktpm; a chrome spiral recovery plant; a tailings storage facility with a capacity of 100 Mt; and two decline systems. Its assets also include a mining fleet in excess of 100 vehicles.