South AfricaWesizwe Platinum intercepted the UG2 platinum reef at its Bakubung platinum mine development project, during the evening of March 25, while developing the 77 level at the main shaft – a critical milestone in the development of the flagship mine.

This was revealed by GM of the Bakubung mine Eddie Mohlabi during a media visit to the mine on Thursday.

The main shaft headgear at Wesizwe Platinum's flagship Bakubung platinum mine, in the North West
The main shaft headgear at Wesizwe Platinum’s flagship Bakubung platinum mine, in the North West

Development at the Bakubung mine, which is located on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex near Rustenburg in the North West province, is continuing at a pace and is on track as both the main shaft and the ventilation shaft reach the same sinking levels of 770 m.

Chip samples of the Merensky reef have been collected and sent away this month to State-owned minerals researcher Mintek for rigorous sampling procedures and analysis, with the first initial results anticipated in about six weeks.

However, the analysis of the bulk sampling will take around 5 months to complete. This sampling process is on schedule and the results will assist in the overall set up of the planned process plant at the site.

While the sampling process is underway, work continues in the development of the Bakubung mine site as a whole, including the continued sinking of the two main shafts.

Originally the development of the ventilation shaft was always ahead of the main shaft, but due to extensive work, both shafts are now at the same level.  The project is now exactly where Wesizwe Platinum anticipated being at this point in time.

Speaking on these latest project milestones, Mohlabi said:  “The importance of these new milestones in the project is that it demonstrates we are on track with the development of the Bakubung platinum mine as a whole, and that our considerable efforts are reaping the rewards.”

Speaking about the next phase of the project, he added: “The next major milestone on the Bakubung Platinum Mine project development calendar is the completion of the shaft sinking process, and achieving the next levels, and we are looking at the ventilation shaft sinking process being completed at the end of the third quarter of 2015.

“The main shaft will follow suit in the first quarter of 2016. This is anticipated to be ahead of schedule.”

In the meantime, concurrent with the underground work that is under way with the development of the mine, there is also surface construction simultaneously taking place. For example, the jigging workshop, required for all the steel work for permanent equipping of the main shaft, is also under construction. The Bakubung team is also busy with the development of a new mine store, while civil works on this project have also recently been completed.

The Bakubung mine is expected to be commissioned in 2018.

An initial 230 000 tpm will be mined from the Merensky reef at the the Bakubung platinum mine, with the balance coming from the secondary UG2 reef. After the Merensky reef is depleted, between 10 to 15 years from the start of production, the full 250 000 t capacity will comprise UG2 ore only.

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