JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Black-owned platinum group metals (PGMs) mining company Royal Bafokeng Platinum boosted its production in the three months to March 31, in spite of several setbacks in the period.
Tonnes delivered to concentrators increased by 17.3% to 862 000 t and tonnes milled increasing by 11.6% to 846 000 t. Platinum production increased by 13.6% to 59 400 oz and four element metal production rose 12.6% to 91 300 oz.
This was despite an increase in safety-related stoppages at Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine (BRPM), termination of the Styldrift mining contractor responsible for 30% of current stoping production, downtime on the BRPM concentrator secondary mill owing to a mill motor resistor bank failure, and power generation constraints.
New contract teams now form part of the Styldrift operations, where the shift cycle has been elevated to full calendar operations from the previous 11-day-fortnight shift cycle.
There were no fatalities in the three months and all key safety metrics showed improvement. Upper group two (UG2) mining has been recommenced at BRPM South shaft and capital expenditure (capex) has been cut by 53%.
BRPM delivered 1.9% fewer tonnes to 525 000 t owing mainly to safety-related stoppages and BRPM tonnes milled fell 6.4% to 516 000 t. The built-up head grade for the reporting period was 4.18 g/t, a 0.7% reduction. Personnel and equipment resourcing required for the initial re-establishment of UG2 mining at the South shaft operation was completed during the quarter with production estimated to reach 20 000 t/m by the fourth quarter of 2019.
Styldrift delivered 68.5% more tonnes to 337 000 t and milled tonnes increased by 59.4% to 330 000 t. Head grade improved by 18.2% to 3.83 g/t on higher grade stoping tonnage. Styldrift remains on schedule to achieve the 230 000 t/m ramp-up by the third quarter of 2020.
Tonnes milled rose 11.6% to 846 000 t with the BRPM concentrator treating 612 000 t and the Maseve concentrator treating 234 000 t. No UG2 ore was toll treated during the quarter.
Cash operating costs rose 86.7% to R1 223-million on the inclusion of Styldrift and BRPM operating costs increased in line with labour inflation increases.
Capex fell to R281.4-million on lower Styldrift expansion capital, which dropped to R260.5-million. Replacement capex fell to R1.1-million and sustaining expenditure fell to R19.8-million for the quarter.
Expansion capex remains aligned with the Styldrift mining, construction and equipping schedule required to meet the 230 000 t/m ramp-up schedule.
Expenditure on the BRPM North Shaft Phase III Replacement Project was R1.1-million, which remains aligned to the scheduled completion of the scope of work by the first half of 2019. Estimated cost at completion is forecast at a below-budget R1.2-billion.
The Styldrift Expansion Project continued to make steady progress with the key items completed during the reporting period including the completion of ventilation shaft No 2 raiseboring, the commissioning of two more on-reef strike belt sections and the commissioning of two more trackless workshops.
Capex for the reporting period amounted to R266.8-million bringing the total project capex to date to R12.07-billion.