The Wesizwe Board has approved an optimisation study, which will bring Bakubung platinum mine to full production 26 months earlier than originally planned.

The initial 230 ktpm production level of the mine in the North West is now planned for October 2020 rather than December 2022, with a 20% annual production rate increase and 8.7% increase in mine capacity to 250 ktpm of run-of-mine ore at full capacity.

Besides reducing the timeframe to full production, Paul Smith, Wesizwe Platinum chief operating officer said that the key objectives of the optimisation study were specifically to reduce the nominal capital cost of the project, improve efficiency, minimize operating costs and reduce business risk.

As a result, the control budget estimate of nominal capital expenditure is expected to reduce to R10.69 billion from R12.03 billion, specifically due to the improved ramp up time to full production, with a substantial savings of R1.1 billion to be derived from significantly lower off-reef development.

These improvements are a result of the shortening of shafts, accommodated by the removal of underground crushing and bringing level development onto reef horizons for on-reef development, resulting in a substantial 402 000 m3 reduction in off-reef development.

A third 6 m raise-bore shaft will also be included early in 2015, which will further assist in ventilation and logistics, including men and material.

Currently, the mine has been partly funded by a $650 million loan from the China Development Bank, but Smith admits that “this is not enough to build a mine. There is a funding shortfall which will come into play around 2017. We are fully aware of it; we know the magnitude of that and we are assessing how we will fund it.” He added that investment opportunities were likely to increase as platinum demand improves.

Today’s top stories
Chamber gives MPRDA amendment bill the nod
Optimisation study approved for implementation
Broad zones of heavy minerals at Savannah’s Mozambique project