South African BEE platinum miner Atlatsa Resources plans to complete the restructure plan at its Bokoni platinum mine in Limpopo by the second quarter of 2016.

Atlatsa Resources announced the implementation of the Bokoni restructure plan in September 2015 to ensure the future sustainability of the mine.

In doing so, Atlatsa Resources issued a Section 189 notice to relevant parties pursuant to Section 189A of the South African Labour Relations Act, No 66 of 1995 and a retrenchment agreement was signed by all recognised labour unions on 8 February 2016.

The Bokoni mine labour complement was resultantly reduced by 38.3% from 6 348 as at 31 March 2015 to 3 917.

The reduction is made up of a 62.5% decrease in contractors and a 19.5% decrease in own mine employees and has to date, based on cost calculated from August 2015, reduced its operational costs by 15% on average per month, as a result of the significant reduction in the labour force.

Meanwhile, the Bokoni mine remains in development with its key Middelpunt Hill UG2 and Brakfontein Merensky underground operations estimated to achieve steady state production by the fourth quarter of 2016 and by 2019, respectively.

On completion of the restructure plan and the current ramp-up phase of the Brakfontein Merensky and Middelpunt Hill UG2 shaft operations, Bokoni will be better positioned from both a unit cost and cash flow perspective, as it will:

  • operate from two shaft complexes as opposed to the current four shaft system, thereby reducing costs associated with logistics and support services;
  • reduce its aggregate operating costs by moving from older, inefficient, higher cost operations to new generation, more efficient and lower cost shaft operations;
  • access higher grade Merensky mining areas at its new generation Brakfontein shaft complex;
  • reduce overall sustaining capital expenditure at its new generation shaft complexes; and
  • significantly reduce its project capital expenditure.

Bokoni operational results

During the quarter ended 31 March 2016, the tons milled at the Bokoni mine decreased by 14.4% to 319 205 ton, resulting in production of 36 609 oz of 4E PGM compared to 42 875 oz of 4E PGM produced during the same period in 2015.

Primary development decreased by 44.9% quarter-on-quarter to 1 210 m due to the impact of four DMR imposed Section 54 stoppages during the quarter, two of which were a result of the deaths of two employees – Kganki Nicholas Kupa and Ramadimetja Degrecia Phaladi, which Atlatsa Resources CEO Harold Motaung regrettably noted.

The result of the stoppages and the impact of the Bokoni restructuring resulted in a loss of 1 175 oz of platinum.

Going forward, more emphasis has been placed on secondary development to increase face length available for mining.

Primary development at Bokoni mine is expected to be sufficient to meet the requirements of the approved restructure plan.

Recoveries at the concentrator plant decreased by 1.9% to 87.5% and stayed constant at 86.3% for the Merensky and UG2 concentrate, respectively, as a result of an increase in throughput and processing of lower grade ore from the opencast operation.

Bokoni Mine remains an operation in development with its key Brakfontein Merensky and Middelpunt Hill UG2 underground development shafts remaining in their ramp-up phase and on target to achieve planned steady state production.