External factors weigh on RBPlat’s third-quarter performance

21st October 2022 By: Donna Slater - Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

Despite an improvement in recoveries at its Maseve mine, platinum group metals miner Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) recorded a 10.2% reduction in tonnes hoisted to 1.2-million tonnes and a 4.9% reduction in tonnes milled, at 1.19-million tonnes, for the third quarter of the year.

The miner attributes its reduced production to several factors, including high inflationary pressures as a result of global supply chain disruptions and market volatility, the Covid-19 pandemic and unreliable electricity supply.

In addition, RBPlat reports that, because of ongoing uncertainty caused by the current corporate action, there are signs of safety- and production-related impacts.

As a result of these challenges, the miner’s production of concentrate of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (4E) declined by 6.2% to 119 100 oz during the period.

For the year to date, total tonnes hoisted amounted to 3.54-million tonnes – a 1.1% increase year-on-year.

For the year-to-date, RBPlat milled 3.49-million tonnes – a 2.5% increase against the nine months to September 30, 2021.

At period’s end, RBPlat had net cash of R5.11-billion, up from the R4.88-billion as at June 30, while the miner also had R3-billion in debt facilities available.

Cash movements for the quarter included the payment of about R711-million for the interim dividend.

Total capital expenditure for the reporting period increased by 10.8% to R466.4-million in line with project and operational stay-in-business capital requirements. Expansion capital expenditure for the quarter decreased year-on-year by 20.6% to R81.9-million.


At its Bafokeng Rasimone platinum mine (BRPM), RBPlat increased its tonnes hoisted year-on-year by 4%, to 709 000 t, with Merensky reef production contributing 314 000 t and Upper Group 2 (UG2) reef contributing 2.39-million tonnes.

Tonnes milled at BRPM increased by 9.6% to 741 000 t, with UG2 tonnes milled accounting for 56.1%, or 416 000 t, of BRPM ore milled during the period under review.

Year-to-date tonnes milled increased by 8.5% to two-million tonnes, with UG2 accounting for 54.5% of BRPM tonnes milled.

The built-up head grade for the quarter and year to date improved marginally to 3.96 g/t 4E and 3.88 g/t 4E, respectively, compared with 2021. The increased volumes and improved head grades have resulted in increased 4E ounce production for both the quarter and year to date of 12.4% and 10.2% to 78.1 oz and 204 700 oz, respectively, compared with 2021.

BRPM cash operating costs for the quarter and year to date increased by 18.3% and 19% to R1.24-billion and R3.30-billion, respectively.

Unit cash costs for the quarter increased by 8% and 5.3% to R1 680/4Eoz and R15 941/4Eoz, respectively, while year-to-date unit costs increased by 9.6% to R1 689/t and by 8% to R16 556/4Eoz.


At RBPlat’s Styldrift mine, total reef tonnes hoisted for the reporting period decreased year-on-year by 24.9% (164 000 t) to 494 000 t. The key contributor to the lower performance is the Section 54 1(a) stop notice issued following a fatal accident on September 11.

Quarterly stoping production was further impacted by the temporary loss of face length in the higher-grade north-western production sections as these sections negotiate and re-establish through a known fault feature.

As such, tonnes milled for the quarter decreased year-on-year by 22% to 446 000 t, while year-to-date tonnes milled declined by 4.7% to 1.49-million tonnes.

The built-up head grade for the quarter and year to date declined by 8.6% and 5.7%, to 3.51 g/t 4E and 3.61 g/t 4E, respectively. The reduction in built-up head grade is owing to the re-establishment of stoping sections in the north west resulting in an increase in on-reef mining dilution and lower higher-grade stoping tonnage contribution to the overall ore mix.

However, RBPlat reports that the built-up head grade is expected to improve during the fourth quarter as these sections successfully re-establish and stoping volumes improve.

Styldrift’s cash operating costs for the quarter and year to date increased by 14.8% and 18.9%, to R1.25-billion and R3.43-billion, respectively. The increase in cash costs is attributable to increased mining consumables, secondary support and trackless fleet maintenance costs and on-mine inflation.

Going forward, RBPlat has revised its milling guidance for the full-year from a previously forecasted 4.65-million to 4.9-million tonnes, to its revised 4.6-million to 4.7-million tonnes.

This, the miner says, is expected to yield 4E production of between 455 000 oz and 470 000 oz at a built-up head grade of 3.76 g/t.

In addition, cash operating unit costs for the group are now forecast to be between R19 500/4Eoz and R20 500/4Eoz, compared to the previous range of R18 500/4Eoz and R19 000/4Eoz.

Group capital expenditure has also been revised lower to R2-billion from a previously forecasted R2.2-billion, with stay-in-business expenditure to range between 7% and 8% of operating cost for the year.