Bakubung Platinum Mine
Wesizwe's core project is the Bakubung Platinum Mine (formerly known as the Frischgewaagd-Ledig project). The property consists of various portions of the farm Frischgewaagd 96 JQ and Ledig 909 JQ. These two farms are located directly south of the Pilanesberg complex.
The project site is situated directly adjacent to the western side of the Royal Bafokeng Platinum Styldrift project and immediately north of Maseve's Project 1, owned in partnership with Canadian group Platinum Group Metals (PTM). These properties are all located on the Western Limb of the mineral-rich Bushveld Igneous Complex in the North West province of South Africa. The Bakubung Platinum Mine will comprise of an underground mine with a twin vertical shaft system - a main shaft and a ventilation shaft which will also function as the second escape route – and a process plant.
The main shaft is planned to have a hoisting capacity of 230 000 tonnes of ore plus 40 000 tonnes of waste per month. Initially the Merensky Reef ore will be mined at the rate of 180 000 tonnes and the UG2 ore will make up the balance of 50 000 tonnes per month. Once the Merensky has been depleted, the full 230 000 tonnes will be generated from UG2 ore. It is anticipated that the annual 4E (3 PGM + Au) production during steady state be around 420 000 ounces.
The Merensky Reef will be mined using conventional stoping methods and the UG2 using semi-mechanised methods, also known as hybrid methods. Crushing will be done underground from where the reefs will be separately conveyed to stockpiles at the concentrator plant. The concentrator design has emanated from the results of the test work conducted during the bankable feasibility study and is based on a standard PGM plant layout. Options for collaboration in developing a joint concentrator plant with neighbours Maseve are being investigated to exploit benefits from economies of scale and sharing capital infrastructure costs.
Developing a Mine
Wesizwe officially launched the Bakubung Platinum Mine development project on 4 July 2011. TWP Projects, a highly-competent engineering and project management company that has significant mine development experience in South Africa’s PGM industry, was appointed as EPCM (engineering, procurement, construction management) contractor for the first 12 months of mine development – from July 2011 to June 2012 – with the aim of concluding the final EPCM contract for the full scope. The initial scope of this work included all project critical activities that enabled the project to start pre-sink preparation on the main and ventilation shafts in the first half of 2012.
At the end of March 2012, Wesizwe awarded the shaft sinking contract for the Bakubung Platinum Mine to Aveng Grinaker-LTA. Six local and international companies were invited to tender and the 1.64 billion contract was awarded following a thorough technical and commercial adjudication process. In selecting the contractor for the single largest capital cost item in the development programme, the adjudication team considered the commercial offer, the technical expertise and experience, as well as a number of other important factors which included the company’s ownership structure; systems and resources; and its safety, health and environment track record. Aveng Grinaker-LTA has been involved with the development of mines for the past three decades and has considerable shaft sinking experience.
The pollution control dam 1 was part of the initial site preparation work completed mid-2011. Work is advancing on the pollution control dam 2 which will increase the holding capacity to 50 000l3 to 60 000l3 which equates to around two thirds of the required capacity at full production.
The site team has moved into the on-site offices, security and access control is now in place on site and the access road to the site is almost complete. The process of project revalidation is also being finalised in preparation for project debt fund-raising.
Securing bulk services
Temporary water and power supply has been established and the project team is working on securing more permanent bulk services to the mine.
Wesizwe has paid South Africa’s national energy supplier, Eskom, the requisite deposit of R58 million and has provided the required performance guarantees of around R31 million, enabling Eskom to commit to provide a permanent power supply for phase 1.
Power supply of 8MW - which is sufficient for shaft-sinking (to the end of 2018) - is scheduled to be available from September 2012 when the mine will convert from pre-sink to slow sink. The Eskom sub-station construction is on track, with the high tension cable duct from the sub-station to the main power points on the mine already dug and being concreted. In phase 2 the power supply will increase to 60MW to accommodate the move towards full production and processing through the concentrator plant. Negotiations around phase 2 are ongoing with Eskom.
Wesizwe has secured temporary water supply of 200 000 litres per day which is sufficient to the end of shaft sinking. However, the company requires a supply of six million litres per day fresh feed at full production. A process is underway with the Magalies Water Authority and other interested parties, which include neighbouring mining companies, local and provincial municipal structures and community representatives, to secure water supply in a way that not only benefits the mining companies, who will derive maximum advantage from a synergistic approach to their infrastructure needs, but also the communities in the area who currently have limited access to fresh water supply.
Wesizwe has appointed a housing programme specialist who will advise the company on the construction of housing for employees. The scope of work includes understanding the requirements of the mine, development of a policy, indentifying the most appropriate location, and determining an accommodation model and the related funding requirements. Again, opportunities for collaboration are being explored with other mining companies in the area