China-headquartered Zijin Mining Group, through its South African subsidiary Nkwe Platinum, on May 13 announced the start of development at its Garatau platinum-group metals (PGMs) mine, in Limpopo.
Boxcut development at the mine, which has an estimated mine life of 29 years, will start on May 28 and the company envisions decline shaft development to start towards the end of the year.
Phase 1 will result in the production of about 1.8-million tonnes a year of PGMs, which will increase to 3.6-million tonnes a year during a second phase development.
Zijin Mining Group has allocated $700-million for the construction of the mine. Nkwe is expected to rank among the top ten platinum suppliers in the world when the project reaches full production.
Once fully operational, the mine will employ about 2 500 people.
It is also expected to create thousands of job opportunities in small, medium-sized and microenterprises in the Fetakgomo Tubatse municipality.
Nkwe says that the development of the enterprise coincides with the sustainable development of the community around the mine.
For example, Nkwe has signed a R7.6-million contract with a local business to conduct early works on site ahead of the boxcut development.
“The mine will offer jobs, training and education. It will develop infrastructure and provide financial and social upliftment to the local communities, the municipal district and the province,” notes Nkwe CEO Zhiyu Fan.
As part of the mine’s first-generation social and labour plan, R18-million has been invested in the upgrading of the Garatau community access road, which now connects the HC Boshoff Hospital to the Ga-Makwae village.
Moreover, Nkwe has invested R14.5-million into adult training and education, learnerships and bursaries, which have benefited the surrounding mine communities.
In October 2020, the second-generation social labour plan was approved, which will result in further local economic development projects in the form of clean water supply to the local mine communities over the next few years.
The water supply project has already started with the supply of water tanks and re-equipping of water boreholes.
"Through education, medical treatment, industrial support, infrastructure construction and disaster relief, we can develop and work together in a mutually beneficial and harmonious way for the benefit of all,” says Fan.
During the launch of the mine, Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha gave his stamp of approval for the mine's development, saying that the mine can be a spark of a revolution in the community, a flow of opportunities that can be perpetuated and not be limited to the mine life.
He says the mine will contribute about $40-million in taxes over its lifetime and inspire other commercial activity in the area.
Nkwe envisions that the mine development will take about four years before the first ore is extracted.