Mining Industry Articles

I found two interesting articles on the mining industry – both sourced from www.miningweekly.com

Northam investing R5.5bn in platinum growth projects

Platinum mining company Northam on Friday elaborated on the company’s suite of four growth projects timed to fill an expected future demand pull unmet by constrained future South African platinum supply.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange- (JSE-) listed company, headed by CEO Paul Dunne, expects the current challenging market conditions and stressed balance sheets to constrain primary supply from South Africa and global demand to grow in line with world gross domestic product.

Longer term, the company is optimistic about a more positive dollar pricing environment for its platinum-group metals (PGMs).

In addition to the company’s stable production base from the conventionally mined Zondereinde platinum mine and the mechanised Booysendal North mine, the company’s board has approved a total capital expenditure (capex) of R5.5-billion on four growth projects.

By far the biggest of these is the R4.2-billion, six-year, 240 000 oz/y Booysendal South project on which work has already begun and which will reach steady state in 2022.

This project is made up of two upper group two (UG2) mining modules – accessed from a capital-lowering common central portal complex – and one small Merensky reef mining module, similar to the north mine.

At the company’s presentation of 15.7% higher production of 436 960 oz for the year to June 30 when operating profit declined to R383-million on a 6.3% margin, pictures of box cut guniting and development of a pollution control dam were flashed on a large screen. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).

Work on an aerial conveyor system from a supplier in Austria will deliver ore from the central portal complex to a 250 000 t/m PGM concentrator plant and integrated chrome extraction plant 4 km away, which was acquired with the takeover of the Everest mine from Aquarius Platinum.

Dunne also flashed up details of the three other projects, which include the R300-million, two-year, 25 000 oz/y Booysendal Merensky Phase 1 project at the Booysendal North mine, on which R75-million has already been spent.

Infrastructure has already been established for initial mining to be accompanied by the development of the decline system so that additional mining sections can be established if needed and swing production can be provided.

The Booysendal UG2 North Deepening project, on which R60-million has already been spent and which involves the addition of two extra mining levels, is seen as a logical, capital-efficient extension of the original Booysendal footprint.

The conveyor-decline cluster for this R270-million, three-year, 30 000 oz/y project is already totally on reef and will thus offer an immediate payback element.

The fourth project is the Zondereinde smelter expansion project, on which R292-million has already been spent and commissioning is on schedule for the second half of next year.

This R750-million project, involving the construction of a 20 MW furnace and dryer, follows on the extension of Northam’s strategic partnership with platinum-refining companyHeraeus, which has contributed the first €10-million of a total of €20-million in exchange for a renewal of the current refining arrangements and guarantees a supply of refined metal to the German company.

The company’s mineral reserves have risen from 19.1-million ounces last year to 24.5-million ounces now.

The company, already with long-life Booysendal and Zondereinde operations, has a strategy of growing down the cost curve by developing shallow, mechanisable orebodies.

“Project execution will be key,” Dunne said at the presentation attended by Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.

Read more at Mining Weekly

DMR demands mines improve H&S records, best performing mines recognised

South African mining industry stakeholders must collectively adopt the fundamental stance that if mines cannot undertake mining safely, they should not mine at all, until the necessary measures have been put in place to protect the lives of all mine workers, Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) acting mines chief inspector Xolile Mbonambi said on Friday.

Speaking at the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy’s 2016 MineSafe conference, he emphasised that the DMR was “gravely concerned” about the continuing loss of life at mines across the country.

“The repercussions of fatalities go well beyond the boundaries of mines and have substantial socioeconomic impacts, impacting the hardest on the poorest of the poor in the country and in the communities of neighbouring countries as well,” Mbonambi stated.

He remarked that it was very important for the DMR to continue to determine the reasons for the occurrence of fatalities at mines.

Mbonambi added that, based on the DMR’s preliminary findings, it had issued a number of Section 54 and Section 55 work stoppage notices this year. He explained that the department had found that such stoppages were needed to prevent workers operating in unsafe work areas, which provided mines with the opportunity to ensure they fixed these problem areas.

“I would like to urge all employers, and mine management teams in particular, to take more responsibility for the health and safety of their workers. We should not place more value on profit margins than the lives of workers.

“Without mine workers there would be no mining sector. We should, therefore, continue to work together to improve health and safety of mine workers,” Mbonambi stressed.

Moreover, he pointed out that it was of “great concern” to the DMR that, in the year to date, there had been 61 fatalities recorded in the mining sector with gold (27) and platinum(22) having been the biggest contributors to this “worrying tally”.

Mbonambi pointed out that this was a major setback for the industry, which had consistently recorded improved health and safety records over the past 20 years, and which had achieved its lowest ever fatality number (77) in 2015.

He urged gold and platinum miners to pay more attention to preventing falls of ground, transport-related accidents and the spread of respiratory diseases which continued to be major causes of loss of life at mines.

He said the DMR would continue to work with mining companies to support all health and safety initiatives. “However, we expect companies to fulfill their commitments and . . . not just look good on paper, but strive to achieve genuinely positive results in preventing the loss of life.”

Further, he noted that there was also a need to ensure that mineworkers had the knowledge and skills to exercise their rights to withdraw or refuse to undertake unsafe work or to work in dangerous environments. “The DMR continues to receive reports of intimidation and victimisation of mineworkers who decide to exercise their rights in this regard,” Mbonambi revealed.

He stated that “all employers should walk the talk”, as the department could not continue to condone poor compliance with mining safety standards, as this was resulting in the loss of life at mines.

Mbonambi also called upon mineworkers to not risk their lives in an attempt to achieve production bonuses.

“The DMR has issued directives for all mines to be more vigilant and implement measures which will safeguard the lives of mine workers to ensure the industry aim of causing zero harm to all mine employees,” he noted.

Read the full article at Mining Weekly

Thanks for reading!

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