Conventional and mechanised mining viable options at Bengwenyama – study

23rd October 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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Johannesburg- and Australia-listed Southern Palladium has disclosed the results of geotechnical test work conducted at its Bengwenyama platinum group metals (PGMs) project, situated on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex.  

The test work successfully established a mine design paradigm that aligns with the standards of existing PGM production mines within the Bushveld Complex. 

"The study has yielded promising results, confirming the viability of both conventional and mechanised underground mining from a geotechnical perspective. The study's conclusions are reassuring. All parameters are in line with existing Bushveld upper group two (UG2) operations," Southern Palladium MD Johan Odendaal said on October 23. 

An independent geotechnical study, carried out by consulting firm OHMS, has validated the feasibility of employing both conventional and mechanised underground mining methods for the UG2 reef. 

The company emphasised the significance of this study in the ongoing scoping study and in the formulation of a future prefeasibility study (PFS). 

The absence of chromite stringers in the UG2 hanging wall indicates a potential minimum stope width of about 1 m. This observation may result in a reserve grade that surpasses the initial projections owing to potentially reduced dilution levels. 

The geotechnical study concluded that mining operations at depths exceeding 50 m underground will not have any adverse impact on the surface infrastructure. 

For the proposed conventional stope layout, the panel face is estimated to be 26 m in length, with an expected mining extraction rate ranging from 91% at shallow depths down to 78% at a depth of 540 m. 

In the case of mechanised mining, which will employ a bord-and-pillar system with a 2 m mining cut, the recommended dimensions are 8 m x 8 m for bords and 6 m x 6 m for pillars.  

This is expected to result in a mining extraction rate of 82% at shallower depths, gradually decreasing to 67% at a depth of 540 m, with the pillar dimensions changing to 8 m x 10 m. 

Southern Palladium has also received confirmation from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy regarding the acceptance of its mining right application. This acceptance grants the company the necessary authorisation to proceed with environmental expert studies and consultations in the pursuit of obtaining the mining right. 

“This is an important development that provides the company with regulatory clearance to commence in-depth environmental expert studies and consultations. These steps will pave the way for the ultimate granting of the mining right," Odendaal said.  

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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