Media Announcements

Wesizwe Platinum Celebrates Important New Milestone at the Bakubung Platinum Mine - the Main Shaft Headgear Installation

26 April 2013

Wesizwe Platinum's flagship project, the Bakubung Platinum Mine, celebrated an important new milestone on 26 April 2013 – the Main Shaft Headgear Installation, featuring the lifting of the sheave decks and superstructures.  Assembled guests at the milestone event were able to view the unique site of a large lattice boom crane lifting over 200t of steel at one time, an occasion not often seen in South Africa's mining sector today.  The equipment needed to establish the headgear usually involves normal erection cranes but on this occasion, a 1 100 t crane was used to hoist the larger sections of the headgear.  When complete, the headgear will reach a height of 86m and weigh over 1 860t and will be one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Commenting on the headgear installation milestone, Wesizwe Platinum's Projects Executive, Jacob Mothomogolo, said:

"The headgear construction will be completed at the end of May, after which time the main shaft will enter the slow-sink phase.  We are on schedule and the project is in a good state of health and on track to meet its deadline of having the mine fully commissioned by April 2018 and of achieving full production by the third quarter of 2023".

The Bakubung Platinum Mine is located on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex, north of Rustenburg in the North West Province.  The mine is adjacent to the western boundary of Royal Bafokeng Platinum's Styldrift project and immediately north of Maseve's Project 1.  When completed, the Bakubung Platinum Mine project will comprise an underground mine accessed by a twin independent vertical shaft system, an 8.5m diameter main shaft for miners and material reaching a depth of 1 000m, and a 7.5m ventilation shaft reaching a depth of 930m which will also function as the second escape route.  The main shaft will have a hoisting capacity of 230 000 tonnes of ore and 40 000 tonnes of waste per month.  Initially, 180 000 tonnes a month will be mined from the Merensky Reef, with the balance coming from the secondary UG2 reef ore. The Bakubung Mine complex will also include a process plant to treat and produce a concentrate, this will be located immediately adjacent to the mine shafts on the southern side.

The Bakubung Platinum Mine project is being funded by a US$ 650 million long-term loan approved by the Credit Committee of the China Development Bank (CDB) in 2012.  Wesizwe announced in December last year the securing of two short-term loan facilities also with the CDB of US$ 100 million each, the first loan being drawn down in December and the second loan facility to be drawn during 2013 as required.  These short-term loans will be refunded in part by the US$ 650 million long-term loan.  On 27 March 2013, Wesizwe Platinum announced its annual results, reporting a consolidated profit for the year of R9.7 million.

Notes for Editors

The Bakubung production profile is sequenced like most mines in the area where the Merensky reef is exploited on a higher ratio first followed by the UG2.  After the Merensky Reef is depleted, between 10 to 15 years from the start of production, the full 230 000 tonne capacity will be generated from UG2 ore.  The Merensky Reef will be mined using conventional breast-stoping methods by means of hand-held drills and scraper winches, with the UG2 ore being mined through semi-mechanised or hybrid mining methods using drills on the face and large haul dump vehicles for cleaning.  Crushing will be done underground at the crusher stations to reduce the rock to less than 150mm.   A decision to do crushing underground was heavily influenced by the EIA processes and as a means to ameliorate the environmental impact of mining within communities.  The crushed ore will then be separately stored in large silos for Merensky and UG2, with associated waste being stored separately.  The reef ores will be hoisted and poured into separate stockpiles before being moved into the mills at the concentrator plant.

Key Facts about the Bakubung Platinum Mine

  • The Bakubung Platinum Mine will have a life span of 35 years
  • It will produce 350,000 oz/y of Platinum Group Metals by 2023
  • The project has a highly favourable prill split - Platinum 63.2%, Palladium 27.1%, Rhodium 7.3% and Gold 2.4%
  • The main shaft will have a hoisting capacity of 230 000 tonnes of ore per month
  • The first blast of the mine ventilation shaft took place in July 2012
  • Main commissioning of the mine is scheduled for April 2018
  • Full production will be reached in the 3rd quarter of 2023
  • Once full production is achieved, the Bakubung Platinum Mine will employ 3200 people.

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