Six major platinum projects, collectively worth some R46-billion, are under project management on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, in the Rustenburg area.
Only two of the six are growth projects and the rest are replacement projects.
Five are being managed by TWP Projects, a Basil Read group company, and one by project house RSV.
All six are vertical shaft projects and modern in the sense that they are referred to as third-generation shafts, descending to depths of 1 000 m to nearly 2 000 m.
Of the six, three – 16 Shaft, 17 Shaft and 20 Shaft projects – are Impala Platinum projects.
The remaining three are Anglo Platinum’s Thembelani, Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s Styldrift project and Wesizwe’s Chinese-controlled Frischgewaagd-Ledig project.
Virtually all will access both Merensky and upper group two (UG2) reefs.
The R7-billion 16 Shaft is expected to produce 226 500 t/m of reef on seven operational levels from 2015; the R12-billion 17 Shaft 225 000 t/m from 2018; and the R6.8-billion 20 Shaft 185 000 t/m of reef from 2013.
The R2.3-billion Thembelani 2 – form-erly Paardekraal 2 – is expected to produce at a rate of 120 000 oz/y of refined platinum from 2015.
The only two growth projects are the R12-billion Styldrift project, which is expected to produce at a rate of 220 000 oz/y of platinum, beginning in 2015, and the R6.6-billion Wesizwe Frischgewaagd-Ledig project, which is expected to produce at a rate of 350 000 oz/y of platinum from 2018.
The funds for Wesizwe’s Frischgewaagd-Ledig project have been raised from China and TWP Projects will begin formal work imminently as the engineering procurement construction management contractor, making attempts to procure from China at the behest of the new con-trolling shareholders, Jinchuan and the China-Africa Development Fund.
TWP nursed Frischgewaagd-Ledig through the period when it was not fully funded to the point of having already completed the first blasts on the two shafts.
What Mining Weekly was able to see during a TWP-organised media visit were the earthworks for what is a greenfield project.
“It’s going to keep us busy for more than ten years,” says TWP Projects executive director Murray Macnab.
Styldrift is 14 months ahead of Frisch-gewaagd-Ledig. Presinking has been completed to nearly 100 m at Styldrift and full sinking is about to take place at a rate of 3 m a day, which is the area’s general current rate of sinking and lining.
Impala Platinum’s 20 Shaft is ramping up to production and the ventilation shaft has been completed at Thembelani, where the sinking of the main shaft is under way.
Impala’s 17 Shaft, the site of the world’s biggest shaft-sinking contract, has passed the halfway mark. Its main shaft will be sunk to 1 922 m, the ventilation shaft to 1 700 m and the refrigeration shaft has already been sunk to its full depth of 1 437 m.
The refrigeration shaft will eventually provide cool air at 3 ˚C to lower the hot temperatures at depth.
Some 4 400 m out of the total of 5 200 m required has already been completed, and R38-million is being spent a month.
When in full swing, 17 Shaft will employ 4 600 people.
TWP is also undertaking a study into the economic feasibility of going ahead with two more Impala replacement shafts – 18 Shaft and 19 Shaft.