Critical milestone reached in Bakubung development project

The Bakubung Platinum Mine development project reached a critical milestone towards the end of March 2015 when the UG2 platinum reef was intercepted while developing the 77th level at the main shaft. The mine, located on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex near Rustenburg in the North West province, is being developed through Wesizwe Platinum’s subsidiary Bakubung Minerals (Pty) Limited.

According to the mine’s general manager Eddie Mohlabi, development is on track with both the main shaft and the ventilation shaft having reached sinking levels of 770 m. In addition, chip samples of the Merensky reef have been collected and sent to Mintek, the South African state-owned minerals research organisation, for sampling and analysis. The initial results are anticipated to be released by mid-May, although the bulk sampling analysis will take approximately five months to complete. These results will aid in the overall set up of the planned process plant.

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“The milestones achieved demonstrate that we are on track with the development of the Bakubung Platinum Mine as a whole, and that our considerable efforts are reaping rewards,” Mohlabi commented. “The next major milestone will be the completion of the shaft sinking process, and achieving the next levels. We are aiming to complete the ventilation shaft sinking process by the end of the third quarter of 2015.” The main shaft, anticipated to be ahead of schedule, will follow suit in the first quarter of 2016.

Surface construction at Bakubung, such as building the jigging workshop needed for the steel work to permanently equip the main shaft, is taking place simultaneously to underground developments. With civil works for the project having recently been completed, development of a new mine store is also underway.

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An initial 230 000 tpm will be mined from the Merensky reef at the Bakubung platinum mine, with the balance coming from the secondary UG2 reef. After the Merensky reef has been depleted, between 10 to 15 years from the start of production, the full 250 000-ton capacity will comprise UG2 ore only. Commissioning is expected to take place in 2018.

The Merensky Reef and the UG2 ore will be mined through semi-mechanised or hybrid methods using drills on the face and large haul dump vehicles for cleaning. Crushing will be done underground at the crusher stations to reduce the rock to a size less than 150 mm in diameter.

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