Our business

Bushveld Complex

Impala

Impala, Implats’ 96% owned primary operational unit, has operations situated on the western limb of the world-renowned Bushveld Complex near Rustenburg in South Africa. This operation comprises a 14 shaft mining complex and concentrating and smelting plants. The base and precious metal refineries are situated in Springs, east of Johannesburg.

Operational review 2015

 

Business summary

  • A 14 shaft mining complex
  • Mineral processes, incorporating concentrating and smelting plants
  • Refineries, housing the base and precious metals refineries
  • Reserves: 19.1 million attributable ounces of platinum
  • Resources (including reserves) 55.0 million attributable ounces of platinum
   

Both the Merensky 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 meters in the south to some 45 meters in the north.

MINERAL RESOURCES AND MINERAL RESERVES

Impala Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserve Statement 2015
View online 

 

Impala, together with the joint venture with Royal Bafokeng Resources, holds contiguous mining and prospecting rights over a total area of 33 562 hectares. The shafts across the property can be divided into three groupings – the old shafts (the ‘Old Men’ comprising 4, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9 and E/F), the mature shafts (the ‘Big 5’ include 1, 10, 11, 12 and 14) and the new shafts (the ‘Triple Build-up, 16, 17 and 20).  The bulk of reserves (53%) are located in the Triple Build-up project shafts.

The Merensky and UG2 reefs are mined concurrently and the mining method is predominantly conventional breast mining. Mechanised bord and pillar mining occurs in selected Merensky Reef areas on two of the shafts (12 and 14 Shafts).

Mining currently extends to a depth of around 1 000 meters, with most operations occurring at an average depth of 800 meters. The mining width, including dilution, for Merensky Reef is typically about 1 meter, whilst that for UG2 is about 0.9 meters. Each shaft develops and mines about 8 square kilometres.

Mineable face length for conventional mining crews, which provides the best measure for ore reserve flexibility, improved from 20.5 kilometres in June 2014 to 22.4 kilometres in June 2015. This has been a key focus area at the operation over a number of years.

The three new major shafts, namely 20, 16 and 17 shafts,are designed as replacement shafts for the older infrastructure with declining resource availability. The intention is to create a more concentrated mining operation with access to new, modern shaft complexes making better use  of the invested fixed cost base,  with higher mining efficiencies and lower unit costs. 

Implats continues to prioritise key capital projects that are value enhancing in the current price environment and that are also important to long-term value creation. The priority is to complete the development of 16 and 20 shafts in line with the strategy for the Impala Lease Area. To date, some R13 billion has been invested into these capital projects. A further R3.9 billion in capital and off-reef capitalisation is required to complete these shaft complexes over the next three years.

Development at 17 Shaft will be further curtailed until the shaft excavations have completed and spend on this project over the next two years will amount to R520 million. This represents an 18 month delay from the plan announced in February 2015.

Mineral Processes houses the concentrator and smelter operations and is located on the mine property in Rustenburg. Concentrating recoveries in FY2015 were 87.4%. Current smelting capacity is 2.6 million ounces of platinum.

The refineries located in Springs comprises a Base Metal Refinery (BMR) and a Precious Metal Refinery (PMR).  Current refining capacity is 2.3 million ounces of platinum.

 

Impala focuses on addressing those social, economic and environmental issues that are seen as having a material impact on the long-term success of the business, the sustainability of the economy, the environment and the communities in which we operate or that are important to key stakeholders.  The pursuit of sustainable development and zero harm are seen as competitive imperatives.

 

Impala meets the ownership requirements of the Mining Charter for 2015. In terms of an agreement finalised in March 2007, Impala paid the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN) all royalties due to them for the period from the 1st of July 2007 onwards. This amounted to R12.5 billion, effectively discharging Impala from further royalty payments to the RBN. The RBN through Royal Bafokeng Holdings Limited (RBH) used this money to subscribe for 75.1 million shares in Implats giving them a 11.3% share in the holding company. During FY2015 four percent of Impala shares were issued to employees leaving Implats with a 96% attributable interest in Impala.

 

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. 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.

 

Production       2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
  Tonnes milled ex mine*   ('000t)    9 199   6 183   10 897   10 654   14 054  
  % Merensky milled*   (%)    46.6   43.8   43.9   43.4   42.5  
  Headgrade (6E)*   (g/t)    4.19   4.34   4.32   4.38   4.60  
  Platinum refined production   ('000oz)    575.2   411.0   709.2   750.1   941.2  
  PGM refined production   ('000oz)    1 137.3   765.9   1377.9   1487.8   1854.2  
                  
Labour efficiency       2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
  Centares per employee costed**   (m²/man/annum)    37   26   47   48   64  
  Tonnes milled per employee costed**   (t/man/annum)    219   144   255   265   339  
                 
Cost                
Mining cost of sales   (Rm)    (14 824)  (12 229)  (12 491)  (10 120)  (11 322) 
  Mining operations   (Rm)    (10 746)  (6 914)  (9 329)  (7 733)  (7 679) 
  Processing operations   (Rm)    (1 943)  (1 308)  (1 959)  (1 782)  (1 673) 
  Refining operations   (Rm)    (561)  (430)  (542)  (505)  (459) 
  Other   (Rm)    (1 574)  (3 577)  (661)  (100)  (1 511) 
                 
Total cost   (Rm)    13 738   9 057   12 227   10 436   10 166  
                 
Unit costs                
  per tonne milled*   (R/t)    1 493   1 465   1 122   980   723  
    (US$/t)    131   141   127   127   103  
  per platinum ounce refined*   (R/oz)    23 884   22 036   17 241   13 913   10 801  
    (US$/oz)    2 092   2 125   1 955   1 797   1 536  
                 
Financial ratios                
  Gross margin ex mine   (%)    (10.9)  (18.4)  14.4   22.2   38.6  
                  
Capital expenditure       2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
    (Rm)    3 047   2 823   4 390   5 269   4 240  
    (US$m)    267   272   498   680   603  
                 
Safety                
  LTIFR     (pmmhwǂ   5.08   5.04   4.91   5.74   5.41  
  FIFR      (pmmhwǂ   0.067   0.048   0.087   0.110   0.058  
                 
Labour complement                
  Own employees   (no)    32 536   32 900   33 356   33 062   32 909  
  Contractors   (no)    11 302   11 708   13 315   15 245   13 744  
*The ex mine tonnage and grade statistics excludes the low grade material from surface sources  
**Total employees excluding capital project employees
ǂPer million man hours worked