RBPlat puts foot on capex accelerator at Styldrift

12th October 2017 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

RBPlat puts foot on capex accelerator at Styldrift

Royal Bafokeng Platinum CEO Steve Phiri
Photo by: Duane Daws

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The total capital expenditure (capex) of Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) surged on increased mining and construction activities at the company’s Styldrift 1 project in line with ramp-up plans.

The black-owned and controlled, midtier platinum group metals producer, which operates the Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine (BRPM) operation, is constructing the Styldrift 1 expansion project.

In the three months to September 30, capex of R613-million rose 129.7% above that of the same period of last year, with the key contributor being a R342.6-million increase in expansion capital at Styldrift.

RBPlat said in a Stock Exchange News Announcement to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online on Thursday that total tonnes delivered to concentrators in the three months rose 7.2% to 793 000 t, with BRPM contributing 644 000 t and Styldrift 149 000 t.

Total milled volumes by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed RBPlat, headed by CEO Steve Phiri, rose 8.1% to 825 000 t on higher mining volumes, with BRPM contributing 670 000 t and Styldrift 155 000 t. The percentage of upper group two (UG2) reef milled fell to 17.8% of the total mix.

No fatal accidents ere recorded in the quarter, when the cash operating cost per platinum ounce fell by 10.9%.

At the Styldrift 1 expansion project, 2 km of shaft infrastructure and decline development was completed, with construction activities centred on overland belt systems, services shaft equipping - with all shaft and station steel work completed, 600 level trackless workshops development, ore handling infrastructure on 642 level taking in silos and rock passes, settler No1 slipe and line activities, raiseboring of the second ventilation shaft and 600 level strike and dip conveyor belts.

At the BRPM phase III replacement project, expenditure for the quarter of R9.7-million brought the total project expenditure to date to R1.05-billion. Project progress and expenditure remains aligned with the current construction schedule required to complete the scope of work related to the installation of services, conveyor belts and associated bulkheads on 14 and 15 levels.

The business restructuring process concluded in the third quarter, involving the optimisation of labour structures to reduce operational fixed costs and the suspension of the South shaft UG2 mining in favour of higher margin ounce production, culminated in the reduction of 520 employees and the redeploying of 60% of the South shaft UG2 stoping crews to the superior-margin South Shaft Merensky and North Shaft UG2 production areas.

Cash operating costs for the quarter fell by 2.9% to R724-million, which with the 10.2% increase in BRPM milled volumes, resulted in the unit cash operating cost per tonne milled falling 11.9% to R1 081/t and cost per platinum ounce falling 10.9% to R14 535/oz in the period.

Last month RBPlat entered into a $74-million term sheet transaction with Platinum Group Metals to acquire the concentrator plant and surface assets of the Maseve mine, including power and water.

The Maseve platinum mine borders RBPlat’s Styldrift I project, with both on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, near Rustenburg.

The agreement affords it immediate access to an operational concentrator plant to treat Styldrift I ore plus the strategic flexibility to potentially extend the life-of-mine of the South Shaft Merensky operations.

Moreover, it has the potential to accelerate the date on which Styldrift I ore can be treated, and reduces both the capital outlays and the technical risk associated with the construction of a new plant.

Furthermore, the share transaction provides RBPlat with early access to its Frischgewaagd orebody at Styldrift.