Zondereinde Western Extension project, South Africa – update

14th April 2023 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Zondereinde Western Extension project, South Africa – update

Photo by: Northam Platinum

Name of the Project
Zondereinde Western extension project.

Northern portion of the western limb of the Bushveld Complex near Thabazimbi, in Limpopo, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
Northam Platinum Holdings Limited.

Project Description
The Zondereinde mine is an established, conventional, long-life operation that mines upper group two (UG2) and Merensky reef ore and produces about 300 000 oz/y of refined platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold, or 4E, platinum-group metals from its own operations.

In early 2018, Northam acquired a portion of the Amandelbult mining right – the Western extension – from Anglo American Platinum.

The Western extension is a rich resource block containing 21-million ounces of PGMs within the high-grade Merensky and UG2 orebodies of the Bushveld Complex.

The extension provides Zondereinde with immediate access to an additional 3.6 km of mineable strike to the west of its existing underground operations and access to additional Merensky and UG2 resources, extending Zondereinde's life-of-mine to more than 30 years.

The extension will increase Zondereinde’s production to 350 000 oz/y of 4E by 2026.

Northam has developed, and is equipping, a vertical shaft (No 3 shaft) to access the Western extension.

The No 3 shaft will be able to carry 126 people at 12 m/s using a three-deck cage and counterweight configuration. The rock shaft will be able to hoist as much as 115 000 t a month using 14 t skips in a skip-skip configuration. The ventilation shaft will be able to exhaust air at 400 kg/s.

The No 3 personnel and materials shaft and rock shafts will reach production levels three and four, connecting with a decline cluster, consequently allowing for material distribution and rock hoisting from the respective production levels.

The No 3 shaft underground decline cluster will comprise a chairlift decline with piped mining services, a rock decline equipped with a double-drum winder comprising two 12 t skips, and a material decline equipped with a single drum winder and gondola.

Mining activity from the existing workings of the Zondereinde mine will gradually transition into the Western extension block. The new shaft will also facilitate the supply of services, including backfill, chilled service water and ventilation, to the underground workings. This will alleviate the distance challenges from the existing Zondereinde shafts. 

Potential Job Creation
The project will create employment for an additional 600 people and secure continued employment for 11 000 people.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
Not stated.

Capital Expenditure

Planned Start/End Date
Not stated.

Latest Developments
Development within the Western extension section has progressed well from levels 3 to 12.

Strike development on some levels is further than the fourth mining line and raises are being developed on the third mining line, while stoping and ledging are in progress on the first two mining lines.

Development of the chairlift decline continues and the first holing, between 3 and 4 levels, has been completed.

The equipping of No 3 shaft is progressing on schedule.

Pilot drilling of the 3a ventilation shaft was completed in February 2023 and reaming to a final diameter of 4.8 m has started. Both shafts, together with supporting surface infrastructure, will be operational in 2024. Pilot drilling for a third shaft, 3b, designed for rock hoisting, has started. This is expected to be commissioned in 2028 and will allow for optimal ore extraction from the Western extension.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Master Drilling (drilling contractor); and BBE (design and build of refrigeration plant).

Contact Details for Project Information
Northam Platinum, tel +27 11 759 6000.
R&A Strategic Communications, on behalf of Northam Platinum, tel +27 11 880 3924 or email marion@rasc.co.za.