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Bushveld Complex

Impala

Impala, Implats’ primary operational unit, has operations situated on the Impala lease area on the western limb of the world-renowned Bushveld Complex near Rustenburg in South Africa, and in Springs east of Johannesburg. In FY2012 production was curtailed to 750,100 ounces of platinum primarily due to industrial action during the period.

HISTORY

Hans Merensky first discovered platinum in the Bushveld Igneous Complex in 1924.  Impala was created in the mid 1960’s to house Union Corporation’s platinum interests.  At that time a prospecting permit was acquired and initial production commenced in 1969.  Initially Impala mined the Merensky Reef and mining on the UG2 chromitite layer only began in the early 1980’s as the technology to smelt higher chrome ore was developed.  By the early 1990’s Impala was producing in the region of 1 million platinum ounces per annum.

 

Business summary

  • A 16 shaft mining complex
  • Mineral processes, incorporating concentrating and smelting plants
  • Refineries, housing the base and precious metals refineries
  • Reserves: 19.8 million attributable ounces of platinum
  • Resources (including reserves) 73.9 million attributable ounces of platinum
  • Production: 709 200 ounces of refined platinum
  • Employees and contractors: 46 671
   
 

Operational review 2013

 

A mining lease over land predominantly owned by the Bafokeng Tribe (now the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN)) was originally granted in 1968.  A landmark agreement securing Impala’s access to these mineral rights for a period of 40 years was signed with the RBN in February 1999.  In terms of this agreement, the RBN not only enjoyed royalties from metals mined in areas over which they hold mineral rights,  but they also became a major shareholder in the holding company, Implats, with board representation.  A new agreement finalised in early March 2007 resulted in the royalty being converted into equity making the RBN the group’s largest shareholder.

GEOLOGY

Both the Merensky Reef and UG2 Reefs, which are contained in the Rustenburg Layered Suite, a well-layered ultramafic to mafic igneous succession on the 2 billion year-old Bushveld Complex, are present throughout the lease area.  Both reefs sub-outcrop on the mining area and dip approximately 10 to 12 degrees towards the centre of the Complex, although locally dips may increase to 15 degrees.  The vertical separation between the Merensky and UG2 reefs varies from about 125 metres in the south to some 45 metres in the north.

 

Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve Statement 2013
View online 

 

MINING

Impala holds contiguous mining rights and prospecting rights for a total area of 260 square kilometres.  Operations comprise 15 operational shaft systems, five of which have underground decline systems.  Both the Merensky and UG2 reefs are exploited and the bulk of mining is conventional breast mining.  Mechanised bord and pillar mining occurs in selected Merensky Reef areas on two of the shafts and only accounts for between 12 and 14% of production.  Limited opencast mining takes place at the outcrop position to a maximum depth of 50 metres.

Mining currently extends to a depth of around 1,000 metres, with most operations occurring at an average depth of 800 metres.  The mining width, including dilution, for Merensky Reef is typically about 1 metre, whilst that for UG2 is about 0.9 metres.  Each shaft develops and mines about 8 square kilometres.  In FY2012 Impala mined around 10.7 million tonnes of ore, yielding 750,100 ounces of platinum. 

CAPITAL PROJECTS

The operation is currently busy with a capital programme to extend the lives of the existing shaft systems and to develop a number of new shafts. The development of a series of five decline shaft systems below the current third generation vertical shafts and a vertical shaft link with 12 Shaft is nearing completion. At present, three decline shafts are in full production with development of the remaining two decline projects (11C and 14 shafts) now contributing tonnes from stoping activities.

The construction of three new deep-level shafts (20, 16 and 17 Shafts) is currently underway. These shafts are designed as replacement shafts for the older infrastructure which is experiencing declining resource availability. 20 Shaft has commenced production, and in FY2013 is expected to produce 26,000 ounces of platinum building to steady-state throughput of 125,000 ounces in FY2018.

At 16 Shaft equipping is in progress and first production will commence in 2014 with output of 15,000 ounces. The build up to full throughput of 185,000 ounces of platinum will be achieved in FY2018. Sinking of the 17 Shaft complex is on schedule and first production is expected in FY2017. At full production which is scheduled for early in the next decade, the shaft will produce around 180,000 ounces of platinum per annum.

METALLURGY

Mineral Processes houses the concentrator and smelter operations and is located on the mine property in Rustenburg.  The concentrator consists of 30 run-of-mine semi-autogeneous mills.  The smelter currently operates three six-inline AC electric furnaces ranging from 32 to 38MW.  

Impala is committed to maintaining a leading edge in its metallurgical operations and significant capital expenditure programmes have been undertaken to ensure sufficient capacity in to the future. Current capacity is 2.6 million ounces of platinum and the plant is fully compliant with environmental legislation.

A phased expansion in capacity has also been undertaken at Impala’s refineries in Springs.  Currently capacity of 2.3 million ounces of platinum at the Base Metals Refinery (BMR) matches installed capacity at the Precious Metals Refinery (PMR).  The bankable feasibility study for a further expansion of the PMR to 2.8 million ounces of platinum has been completed.  Due to its modular nature this project can be quickly activated when market conditions warrant.

BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

Impala meets the ownership requirements of the Mining Charter for 2014.  In terms of an agreement finalised in early March 2007, Impala agreed to pay the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN) all royalties due to them from the 1st July 2007 onwards.  This amounted to R12.5 billion.  Effectively through this transaction, Impala have discharged its obligation to pay royalties to the RBN.  The RBN, in turn, have subscribed for 75.1 million Implats shares giving them a 13.2% share in the holding company.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Impala is committed to a sustainable mining industry and believes that it is a strategic imperative for the future.  The operation has used the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), the recently updated Mining Charter, the Mining Scorecard and Codes of Good Practice as guidelines to ensure a holistic approach.  The result is a proactive strategy designed to ensure that genuine transformation is achieved, notably in terms of ownership, management, skills development, employment equity, procurement, housing and rural development. 

Impala - key statistics

    2013   2012   2011   2010   2009  
Safety leading indicators              
Hazards for which internal STOP Notes have been issued   (no)  2 680   1 363   1 212   818   551  
Stoppage/instructions issued by State or DMR   (no)  90   108   59   47   51  
Leadership STOP Observations   (no)  30 803   20 518   –   –   –  
Safety representative training   (no)  1 958   1 254   1 666   1 301   1 147  
Safety lagging indicators              
Fatal injury frequency rate   (pmmhw)  0.087   0.110   0.058   0.158   0.101  
Lost-time injury frequency rate   (pmmhw)  4.91   5.74   5.41   5.09   3.47  
Total injury frequency rate   (pmmhw)  11.38   11.56   13.24   13.98   13.84  
Lost days rate   (pmmhw)  329   376   380   328   268  
Health              
Noise-induced hearing loss cases submitted   (no)  36   53   52   92   44  
On wellness programme   (no)  5 542   4 693   4 451   3 593   2 960  
On antiretroviral therapy   (no)  3 667   3 248   2 507   1 723   882  
Environmental              
Total water consumed   (Mℓ)  25 979   27 263   29 288   23 984   27 595  
Total water recycled   (%)  41   39   36   24   29  
CO2 emissions   (t)  3 024 489   2 938 908   3 255 484   3 019 131   2 840 143  
SO2 emitted   (t)  6 519   4 993   6 781   4 477   14 678  
People              
Own employees   (no)  33 356   33 062   32 909   31 870   30 540  
Contractors   (no)  13 315   15 245   13 744   13 717   12 786  
Training spend (% relative to wage bill)  (%)  6   6   6   5   7  
Literacy (ABET level (III) and above)  (%)  81   75   57   56   52  
Labour turnover   (%)  7   8   7   6   8  
HDSA in management   (%)  47   48   48   46   45  
Social              
Community spend   (Rm)  79   65   81   70   –  
BEE procurement   (%)  54   51   55   49   45  
One person per room – hostel units   (no)  5 375   5 482   4 092   1 212   724  
Mining sales   (Rm)  14 588   13 009   18 441   14 025   15 250  
Platinum     9 624   8 666   11 618   8 833   9 875  
Palladium     2 399   1 461   2 483   1 410   930  
Rhodium     940   1 093   2 132   2 386   3 067  
Nickel     600   704   989   609   640  
Other     1 025   1 085   1 219   787   738  
Mining cost of sales   (Rm)  (12 491)  (10 120)  (11 322)  (9 181)  (7 989) 
On-mine operations     (9 329)  (7 733)  (7 679)  (6 506)  (5 996) 
Processing operations     (1 959)  (1 782)  (1 673)  (1 457)  (1 349) 
Refining operations     (542)  (505)  (459)  (413)  (416) 
Selling and administration     (397)  (416)  (355)  (341)  (374) 
Share-based payments     93   333   65   (345)  670  
Depreciation     (1 666)  (1 141)  (923)  (742)  (630) 
Change in metal inventories     1 309   1 124   (298)  623   106  
Mining gross profit   (Rm)  2 097   2 889   7 119   4 844   7 261  
Royalty expense   (Rm)  (326)  (299)  (606)  (420)  (373) 
Profit from metal purchased transactions   (Rm)  218   5   25   146   18  
Sales of metals purchased     14 522   14 020   13 589   10 516   10 060  
Cost of metals purchased     (14 304)  (14 011)  (13 568)  (10 370)  (10 042) 
Change in metal inventories     –   (4)  4      
Gross margin ex mine   (%)  14.4   22.2   38.6   34.5   47.6  
Sales volumes ex mine              
Platinum   (000oz)  703.6   700.7   980.5   819.1   924.0  
Palladium   (000oz)  398.8   285.7   527.3   501.9   401.1  
Rhodium   (000oz)  94.0   89.0   133.5   147.9   100.5  
Nickel   (t)  4 159   4 633   5 929   4 386   6 220  
Prices achieved ex mine              
Platinum   (US$/oz)  1 553   1 599   1 693   1 427   1 228  
Palladium   (US$/oz)  681   682   678   373   271  
Rhodium   (US$/oz)  1 146   1 611   2 272   2 144   3 733  
Nickel   (US$/t)  16 926   19 844   23 951   18 286   12 774  
Exchange rate achieved ex mine   (R/US$)  8.79   7.69   6.99   7.56   8.56  
Production ex mine              
Tonnes milled ex mine*   (000t)  10 897   10 654   14 054   13 531   15 102  
% Merensky milled*   (%)  43.9   43.4   42.5   39.8   45.1  
Total development metres   (metres)  97 378   96 841   132 342   122 573   98 115  
Headgrade (6E)*   (g/t)  4.32   4.38   4.60   4.60   4.56  
Platinum refined   (000oz)  709.2   750.1   941.2   871.4   950.5  
Palladium refined   (000oz)  350.5   408.6   510.5   459.3   425.5  
Rhodium refined   (000oz)  101.3   98.9   126.8   121.7   124.1  
Nickel refined   (t)  4 035   4 757   5 455   4 852   6 228  
PGM refined production   (000oz)  1 377.9   1 487.8   1 854.2   1 714.7   1 790.1  
Cost              
Total cost   (Rm)  12 227   10 436   10 166   8 717   8 135  
  (US$m)  1 387   1 348   1 446   1 154   896  
Cost per tonne milled   (R/t)  1 122   980   723   644   539  
  (US$/t)  127   127   103   85   59  
Cost per PGM ounce refined   (R/oz)  8 874   7 014   5 483   5 084   4 544  
  (US$/t)  1 006   906   780   673   500  
Cost per platinum ounce refined   (R/oz)  17 241   13 913   10 801   10 003   8 559  
  (US$/t)  1 955   1 797   1 536   1 324   942  
Cost net of revenue received for other metals   (R/oz)  10 241   8 123   3 552   4 045   2 904  
  (US$/t)  1 161   1 049   505   535   320  
Capital expenditure   (Rm)  4 390   5 269   4 240   3 435   4 782  
  (US$m)  498   680   603   455   526  
Labour efficiency              
Centares per employee costed**   (m²/man/annum)  47   48   64   70   89  
Tonnes milled per employee costed**   (t/man/annum)  255   265   339   341   392  

*The ex mine tonnage and grade statistics tabulated above exclude the low-grade material from surface sources.
**Total employees excluding capital project employees.