Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2013

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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W E S I Z W E B A KU B U N G possibility that Eskom will fall behind in other projects too, with obvious implications for Bakubung. Mothomogolo notes this is a concern, but talks with Eskom are ongoing. For now, management is happy with the progress at the mine. "We have a small deficit of around 70 m on the ventilation shaft, but are confident we will catch it up," Mothomogolo said. "This is a 62-month project and we are only 18 months into it." Bakubung's production profile is sequenced, as are most mines in the area, to the Merensky reef that will be exploited on a higher ration first, followed by the Upper Group 2 (UG2) reef. Merensky is projected to be depleted within 15 years of production, after which the full 230,000 mt capacity will come from UG2. Merensky will be mined using conventional breast-stoping methods by means of handheld drills and scraper winches. UG2 ore will be removed by semi-mechanized or hybrid methods using drills on the face and large haul dump vehicles for cleaning. Crusher stations will be underground. "This was meant to reduce noise and vibration to the surrounding community," said Mothomogolo. Ore will be reduced to 150 mm, raised to the surface and stored in separate silos for the Merensky and UG2 production. The mine complex will also include a processing plant to treat and produce concentrate. The life of the mine is predicted to be 35 years, producing 350,000 oz of platinum group metals a year. The batch plant is one of the facilities that will soon be assembled on site. Labor and Community Relations Bakubung forges ahead at a particularly unhappy time for the South African platinum industry. Falling prices, overproduction and strikes that culminated in a massacre of striking workers last year have shaken platinum producers to their core. Bakubung has escaped these issues largely because it still has a small workforce. It has around 930 people on site, 30% of whom are drawn from the local community. Once production commences, the mine will provide jobs for 3,000 or more people. Many of these will be drawn from migrant labor— a phenomenon that many analysts say contributed to last year's unrest. Mothomogolo noted the surrounding community had little mining experience— most worked in agriculture or tourism. The mine lies next to gambling and entertainment complex Sun City (eventually the development work will pass under Sun City itself). JUNE 2013 • E&MJ 77

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