Impala Platinum - Rustenburg Operations
Platinum major Impala Platinum (Implats) saw gross refined platinum production during the first quarter production period to 30 September increase by 20% to 365 200 oz.

This was compared to 304 100 oz achieved in the prior corresponding period and was primarily due to sustained good operational performances from Zimplats, Marula, Mimosa, Two Rivers and Impala Refining Services (IRS) – as well as the impact of planned furnace maintenance at the Impala Rustenburg smelters last year.

“Our growth momentum in platinum production, which started last year, has continued following a 20% increase in output over the last quarter. Impala Rustenburg was, however, affected by safety stoppages, but the production for the upcoming December quarter is expected to normalise due to the continued high level of focus on improving safety through key initiatives and enhanced dialogue with the DMR and AMCU, as well as the resumption of full production at 1 Shaft,” says Implats CEO Terence Goodlace.

“Progress on the re-establishment of safe production at Rustenburg’s fire-affected 14 Shaft is on plan and cold commissioning of the conveyor belt and its associated infrastructure in the upper part of the decline section has commenced.”

“Zimplats has continued to excel from a health, safety and production perspective and the bankable feasibility work for the development of portal 6 has been completed. The final Implats Board submission for this project is planned for November 2016.”

Impala Rustenburg

A five month long comprehensive multi-stakeholder, multimedia health and safety awareness campaign was launched throughout Impala Rustenburg in July 2016. In addition the critical safe behaviours programme continues to gain impetus for 17 000 employees employed in five key occupations throughout the property.

Even with all of this health and safety focus Lucas Chauke was fatally injured in a fall of ground incident at Impala 12 Shaft, Ernesto Uainda sustained fatal injuries in an underground locomotive tramming incident at Impala 20 Shaft, and Joseph Kekgaretswa was fatally injured while doing shaft maintenance work at Impala 7 Shaft.

Tonnes milled were 18.6% lower than the previous comparable quarter at 2.43 Mt, largely as a result of production lost due to:

  • Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) safety stoppages (approximately 300 000 t),
  • delayed production build-up at Impala 1 Shaft following a fall-of-ground safety incident in May 2016,
  • a decision to re-size the UG2 conventional panel widths across the operation in line with assessed ground conditions to significantly reduce the operational risk, and
  • production lost from the Impala 14 Shaft decline section, which remains closed after the conveyor infrastructure was damaged in an underground conveyor fire in January 2016.

The production impact as a result of the build-up at Impala Rustenburg’s 1 Shaft and re-sizing the UG2 conventional panel widths is anticipated to be limited to the first quarter’s performance and is not expected to materially affect performance in the second quarter.

Repair work at the 14 Shaft decline section is progressing according to plan with the first production section expected to be recommissioned ahead of schedule by the end of October 2016, with full mining capacity planned to be restored from March 2017.

Additional Merensky Reef tonnage from the recommissioned 14 Shaft decline system and continued build-up from 16 Shaft and 20 Shaft will benefit full year planned production.

Refined platinum production at Impala Rustenburg increased by 22% to 150 600 oz, compared to 123 400 platinum ounces produced in the comparable quarter last year, which was impacted by planned smelter maintenance.

Zimplats

Zimplats reported zero lost time injuries for the quarter and mill throughput increased by 5.5% to 1.7 Mt, compared to 1.61 Mt in the prior corresponding period, largely as a result of increased production from the South open pit and Bimha mine.

Platinum in matte production consequently increased by 3.6% to 68 400 oz, compared to 66 000 oz in the prior corresponding period a year ago.

[quote]The bankable feasibility study for the development of a 2.2 Mtpa replacement portal system for the Rukodzi and the Ngwarati mines has been completed and this project will be submitted to the Boards of Zimplats and Implats for their consideration in November 2016.

Once approved, the planned US$260 million project will access 4.65 million 4E ounces of reserves through high productivity modern mechanised mining methods. Preliminary early works related to accessing and excavating the box cut position commenced in the quarter.

Marula

Implats’ Marula reported zero fatal incidents for the quarter and tonnes milled increased by 1.4% to 446 000 t, compared to 440 000 t in the prior corresponding period.

This increase was achieved despite significant sporadic community protest disruptions during the quarter, which resulted in a direct production loss of some 101 000 t milled. There was a further 5 000 t lost as a result of DMR safety stoppages.

The management team continue to focus on relationship-building initiatives with the local communities to arrest the community disruptions and secure the planned build-up in production to 90 000 platinum ounces per annum. Platinum in concentrate production was unchanged at 21 200 oz compared to the prior corresponding period.

Mimosa

Implats’ Mimosa reported zero lost time injuries and tonnes milled during the period increased by 2.7% to 690 000 t, compared to 672 000 t in the previous comparable quarter.

Platinum production in concentrate of 30 500 o was largely unchanged from the prior comparable period.

Two Rivers

Implats’ Two Rivers reported two lost time injuries for the quarter and mill throughput increased by 6.7% to 877 000 t, compared to 822 000 t in the previous comparable quarter. Together with higher grade and improved recoveries platinum in concentrate production increased by 11.4% to 49 300 oz compared to 44 700 oz in the prior comparable period.

IRS

IRS refined platinum production during the period increased by 18.7% to 214 500 oz, compared to 180 700 oz in the prior quarter. This was principally as a result of higher deliveries from third party customers during the quarter under review.