Our business

Bushveld Complex

Impala

Impala is Implats’ primary operational unit and has operations situated on the Impala lease area on the western limb of the world-renowned Bushveld Complex near Rustenburg, and in Springs, east of Johannesburg. In FY2014, a year impacted by a five-month strike, Impala produced 411000 ounces of refined platinum. A strategic review is currently being undertaken and is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 2014. The results will be communicated in February 2015.

Operational review 2014

 

Business summary

  • A 14 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) 57.6 million attributable ounces of platinum
  • Contribution to Group Platinum production: 35%
   

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 2014
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.

 

The three new major shafts, namely 20, 16 and 17 shafts,are designed as replacement shafts for the older infrastructure which is experiencing declining resource availability.   All three projects are currently undergoing a stringent review process which is expected to be completed by the end of December 2014.

20 Shaft commenced production in FY2013 and is currently in ramp-up phase.  On-reef access development and stoping was interrupted in the last year by the prolonged industrial action experienced at this operation. Steady state throughput of 1.7 million tonnes per annum of Merensky Reef or 125 000 ounces of platinum is now forecast for FY2019.

16 Shaft was commissioned at the end of FY2013.  First stoping on the four upper levels was initiated in FY2014, while infrastructure of the four bottom levels continued.  The build up to full production of 2.7 million tonnes of ore per annum or 185 000 ounces of platinum will be achieved in FY2020 due to the strike, slower development to reef, bad ground conditions and difficulties in reef access development due to the Hex River fault. Ore will be sourced from the Merensky and UG2 reefs.

17 Shaft is expected to produce around 2.7 million tonnes equating to 180 000 ounces of platinum per annum.  The project has been affected by contractor performance challenges and was further slowed as a result of cash preservation measures relating to the strike.  First production is now only expected in FY2020.

 

Mineral Processes houses the concentrator and smelter operations and is located on the mine property in Rustenburg. Concentrating recoveries in FY2014 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 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 of 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 shares in Implats giving them a 13.2% share in the holding company.

 

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       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
  Tonnes milled ex mine*   ('000t)    6 183   10 897   10 654   14 054   13 531  
  % Merensky milled*   (%)    43.8   43.9   43.4   42.5   39.8  
  Headgrade (6E)*   (g/t)    4.34   4.32   4.38   4.60   4.60  
  Platinum refined production   ('000oz)    411.0   709.2   750.1   941.2   871.4  
  PGM refined production   ('000oz)    765.9   1377.9   1487.8   1854.2   1714.7  
                 
Labour efficiency       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
  Centares per employee costed**   (m²/man/annum)    26   47   48   64   70  
  Tonnes milled per employee costed**   (t/man/annum)    144   255   265   339   341  
                 
Cost       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
Mining cost of sales   (Rm)    (12 229)  (12 491)  (10 120)  (11 322)  (9 181) 
  Mining operations   (Rm)    (6 914)  (9 329)  (7 733)  (7 679)  (6 506) 
  Processing operations   (Rm)    (1 308)  (1 959)  (1 782)  (1 673)  (1 457) 
  Refining operations   (Rm)    (430)  (542)  (505)  (459)  (413) 
  Other   (Rm)    (3 577)  (661)  (100)  (1 511)  (805) 
                 
Total cost   (Rm)    9 057   12 227   10 436   10 166   8 717  
                 
Unit costs                
  per tonne milled*   (R/t)    1 465   1 122   980   723   644  
    (US$/t)    141   127   127   103   85  
  per platinum ounce refined*   (R/oz)    22 036   17 241   13 913   10 801   10 003  
    (US$/oz)    2 125   1 955   1 797   1 536   1 324  
                 
Financial ratios       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
  Gross margin ex mine   (%)    (18.4)  14.4   22.2   38.6   34.5  
                 
Capital expenditure       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
    (Rm)    2 823   4 390   5 269   4 240   3 435  
    (US$m)    272   498   680   603   455  
                 
Safety       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
  LTIFR     (pmmhwǂ   5.04   4.91   5.74   5.41   5.09  
  FIFR      (pmmhwǂ   0.048   0.087   0.110   0.058   0.158  
                 
Labour complement       2014   2013   2012   2011   2010  
  Own employees   (no)    32 900   33 356   33 062   32 909   31 870  
  Contractors   (no)    11 708   13 315   15 245   13 744   13 717  
*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