JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Notwithstanding a challenging business environment, black-empowered platinum producer Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) reported a 4% year-on-year increase in total tonnes delivered to concentrators during the quarter ended March 31, while milled tonnes increased by 8% and the built-up head grade improved by 2%.
The improvement in milled tonnes and built-up head grade yielded a 10% increase in platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold-element ounces-in-concentrate on a year-on-year basis.
RBPlat attributed the improved performance to a reduction in Section 54 safety-related stoppages, which were down to two during the quarter, compared with seven in the 2012 comparable period, and benefits accrued from the company’s ongoing operational flexibility strategy.
The year-on-year increase in cash operating cost per platinum ounce-in-concentrate produced was contained to 0.2% at R11.68, mainly owing to benefits incurred from the 8% increase in milled tonnes.
Capital expenditure for the quarter was 19% lower than that spent in the previous comparable period, with reduced replacement and stay-in-business expenditure offsetting the increased expansion-related expenditure.
Meanwhile, RBPlat said its Styldrift I Project expansion remained on schedule and was about 30% complete, based on the revised project schedule that resulted from a project optimisation study.
Good progress was made with the expansion during the period under review, with shaft-sinking operations having advanced to a depth of 658 m at the main shaft and 642 m below surface on the services shaft. Stations at 600 and 642 levels were established at both shafts.
Lateral development on 600 and 642 levels continued during the quarter, with a total of 479 m developed and 34 m of raise-boring having been completed, to date. RBPlat noted that the next key sinking milestone, reaching the 708 level station was planned for the end of April.
The company stated that surface construction at Styldrift had progressed according to plan, with the rock winder house, main substation and central workshops reaching completion during the quarter.
The capital expenditure at the project during the reporting period totalled R138.02-million, with expenditure for the year estimated at R728-million. Project-to-date commitment had reached R2.28-billion, while expenditure reached R1.97-billion.
The Phase 3 replacement project at the company’s Bafokeng Rasimone platinum mine (BRPM), in Rustenburg, was 44% complete and marginally ahead of schedule. The project remained below budget, with expenditure for the quarter reaching R36.1-million and R446.3-million for the project to date.
The replacement project entails the extension of the North shaft access infrastructure and associated reef infrastructure from level 10 to the boundary of the mine at level 15.