Africa|Business|Construction|Energy|Environment|Health|Manufacturing|Mining|Platinum|PROJECT|Projects|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Safety|Sustainable|Systems|Training|Waste|Water|Manufacturing |Products|Environmental|Waste|Operations
Africa|Business|Construction|Energy|Environment|Health|Manufacturing|Mining|Platinum|PROJECT|Projects|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Safety|Sustainable|Systems|Training|Waste|Water|Manufacturing |Products|Environmental|Waste|Operations

Tailings re-mining to ramp up in 2023

3rd March 2023

By: Leah Shelene Asaram

Features Reporter


Font size: - +

JSE-listed platinum group metals (PGMs) producer Impala Platinum’s (Implats’) Rustenburg operation, in the North West province, has been re-mining tailings from its dormant tailings dams 1 and 2, consequently enabling the miner to exploit a large-scale recycling opportunity while enhancing PGM recoveries.

Implats states that re-mining ensures that any PGMs missed during the first processing phase are extracted in a low-risk and cost-effective manner, while reducing the company’s environmental footprint and allowing for rehabilitation of the tailings dam.

Implats sustainable development group executive Dr Tsakani Mthombeni says the project began in March 2019, with re-mining taking place at 7 500 t/d and which will ramp up to 10 000 t/d during 2023.

“To date, the re-mining has recovered close to 30000 oz of low-risk, low-cost PGMs from just over 3.3-million tonnes of re-mined waste. The re-mining method is hydraulic and the water used is captured and recycled.”

The re-mining project from these once-dormant tailings facilities is providing host-community beneficiation opportunities through a joint venture reclamation company established with Implats’ partner community, the Luka community, notes Mthombeni.

Moreover, the project has created 44 permanent jobs, most of which are held by host-community members. During peak construction periods, there is an opportunity for an additional 35 to 70 jobs for local community members.

The life of the re-mining project is estimated at 12 to 14 years, during which there will be a progressive removal of the tailings facility. Mthombeni says concurrent land rehabilitation is taking place, which also involves community members.

Consequently, the project frees up 82 ha of land for alternate uses, eliminates dust pollution from the tailings dams and reduces Implats’ mine closure liabilities.

Upon the project’s completion, the land will be returned to the owner, the Royal Bafokeng Nation, he adds.

Circular Economy

Mthombeni says Implats aims to create a common understanding of the circular economy throughout the group and also identify circular economy opportunities to benefit its operations and host communities.

Linear economy thinking follows a “take-make-waste” model, where fossil fuels are used to make products, creating waste and pollution during the manufacturing process, and generating further waste and pollution on disposal at the end of their life.

By contrast, a circular economy aims to shift towards a more restorative cycle – a transition to renewable energy, zero-waste processes and product-recycling systems, he adds.

In the social context, Mthombeni says circular economy initiatives can be combined with inclusive strategies to address unmet social needs by, for example, procuring and employing from host communities, partnering with local companies and upskilling local small, medium-sized and microenterprises, besides others.

Based on its environmental, social and corporate governance framework, the company’s circular economy strategy serves to guide capital allocation on projects. Mthombeni says “the overall commitment is to reduce the company’s environmental footprint”.

Goals for all the focus areas, as well as the overarching environmental management systems, are compiled and mapped to the relevant Sustainable Development Goals and the mining principles of global organisation, the International Council on Mining and Metals.

“Implats’ approach to the circular economy is to embed integrated thinking in the way that we do business. “Our environmental strategy presents several opportunities for circular economy initiatives, and we identify inclusive opportunities within these projects,” he notes.

Implats’ updated environmental strategy renews its commitments and sets 2030 targets to align with industry best practice.

Some of these targets include no Level 4 or Level 5 environmental incidents and no Level 3 water-related repeat incidents, achieving 70% water recycling/reuse, and ensuring group tailings management practices, including those of joint ventures, are Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management compliant.

He says, by 2030, the group aims to increase renewable-energy consumption to 46% and reduce carbon emissions by 30% from the 2019 baseline, ramping up to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Mthombeni says other 2030 environmental targets are achieving 85% of nonmineral waste diverted from landfills, rehabilitating 100% of all eligible land, achieving a 100% alignment with the group closure and rehabilitation policy and guideline, and ensuring a 100% alignment against the group biodiversity guideline as assessed by a third party.

Ensuring the safety of Implats’ employees and contractors remains fundamental to delivering its commitment to zero harm, which requires that the company responsibly manage all safety and health risks and promote employee wellbeing.

“Group- and site-specific health and safety policies, procedures and standards are in place to ensure compliance with legislative requirements and support the vision of zero harm,” he adds.

Consequently, responsibility for implementing health and safety policies and procedures rests with line management, under the guidance of the group executive and the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) board committee, notes Mthombeni.

All operations submit quarterly performance reports to the HSE board committee.

The company also supports the industry’s CEO Zero Harm Forum, and Minerals Council South Africa’s Khumbul’ekhaya strategy, which includes eliminating fatalities, commiting to zero harm, implementing effective and competitive training, as well as learning from peers and other industries.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



Aqs image
AQS Liquid Transfer

AxFlow AQS Liquid Transfer (Pty) Ltd is an Importer and Distributor of Pumps in Southern Africa


FlameBlock is a proudly South African company that engineers, manufactures and supplies fire intumescent and retardant products to the fire...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer
On-The-Air (24/05/2024)
24th May 2024 By: Martin Creamer
Magazine round up | 24 May 2024
Magazine round up | 24 May 2024
24th May 2024

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.17 0.205s - 98pq - 2rq
1: United States
Subscribe Now
2: United States