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Sibanye-Stillwater hoists first tons from R4bn 4 000-job K4 platinum project

Picture supplied.

The K4 headgear of the new platinum group metals shaft.

16th May 2022

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The first tons have been hoisted at Marikana K4, Sibanye-Stillwater’s high-return resumed platinum group metals (PGMs) project, which was largely predeveloped and equipped when acquired from the now defunct Lonmin in 2019.

“The K4 project is an unrivalled, top-tier project in the PGMs industry, which will deliver significant value and benefits for all stakeholders for many years,” Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman stated in a release to Mining Weekly.

Johannesburg- and New York-listed Sibanye-Stillwater is investing R4-billion in the project, which, in addition to creating more than 4 000 direct jobs over its 50-year life, is generating local business opportunities and providing valuable economic development and skills transfer for communities.

K4 this month become the sixth shaft within the large Marikana PGMs mining complex, which is situated on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, 40 km east of the town of Rustenburg, in South Africa’s North West province.

As a whole, Marikana has four element (4E) PGM mineral reserves of 22.3-million ounces and 4E PGM mineral resources of 128-million ounces, estimates that include tailings.

K4 will access both the Merensky and upper group two (UG2) reefs to average 250 000 oz/y at steady state, with its main shaft extending down 1 332 m and its vertical shaft to a depth of 1 078 m.

Associated surface infrastructure is largely in place, with only minor refurbishments required and K4’s concentrator plant is fully operational, at a nameplate capacity of 130 000 t of Merensky and UG2 reef a month.

K4 joins operations such as K3, Rowland, Saffy, 4Belt, and E3. Conventional up-dip down-dip mining, together with limited breast mining, is the predominant method of mining deployed.

The ore mined at the Marikana operation is processed through on-site concentrators with a combined milling capacity of 600 000 t a month. The concentrate produced is dispatched to the smelter where a sulphide-rich matte is produced for further processing at the Base Metal Refinery (BMR). At the BMR, base metals (nickel and copper) are removed and the resulting PGMs-rich residue is subsequently sent to Sibanye-Stillwater’s Precious Metal Refinery (PMR) in Brakpan, on the East Rand, for final treatment. PMR produces the final precious metal products.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Southern African PGM operations consist of three managed PGMs-producing underground operations – Marikana, Rustenburg and Kroondal – as well as an opencast operation at Kroondal and all related surface treatment facilities in South Africa.

In addition, the PGMs segment has a 50% attributable in the Mimosa mine, a non-managed, underground operation in Zimbabwe.

The Rustenburg operations are serviced by four concentrators and the Kroondal operations by two concentrators.

Apart from the primary mining operations, the group has several tailings retreatment operations.

Exploration assets include Akanani, which is located on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex, near the town of Mokopane, the Limpopo exploration project, situated 50 km southeast of Mokopane, and the Blue Ridge Platinum exploration project, a 50% attributable joint venture.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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