About Implats

Implats history

Following a successful drilling and exploration programme in the early-mid 1960s, a mine with an initial annual production capacity of 100,000 ounces of platinum was established north of Rustenburg. The first blast was on 3 June 1967 and, in November 1968, a lease covering 27,000 acres (predominantly owned by the Bafokeng Tribe – now the Royal Bafokeng Nation) was granted for what was to become Impala Platinum, the flagship operation of the Implats group. Production here began ahead of schedule in July 1969 and for the first 12 years only the Merensky Reef was mined.

By the late 1960s, the Japanese economy was booming and a significant platinum jewellery market was beginning to develop, proving to be a steady source of demand for the platinum being mined.

In the USA, legislation was passed setting limits for vehicle emission standards that were to be met by the mid-1970s and the Environmental Protection Agency became increasingly active in ensuring these were adopted. Legislation throughout the world soon followed suit, thus opening up an enormous market for platinum for use in autocatalytic converters which reduce vehicle emissions. By mid-1972, Impala was negotiating long-term supply contracts with major US motor manufacturers, General Motors and Chrysler. Soon, Impala had a contract with General Motors to supply up to 300,000 ounces of platinum and 120,000 ounces of palladium annually for the period from 1974 to 1983.

 

   Corporate structure

     
   
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On the corporate side, a company called Bishopsgate Platinum Limited, of which Impala Platinum Ltd was a wholly-owned subsidiary, was listed on the JSE on 26 January 1973 and on 19 October 1978, its name was changed to Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats).

During the 1980s, increasingly militant trade unionism and politically turbulent times for the country as a whole resulted in some of the largest-scale industrial action ever seen. This culminated in riots, go-slows, underground sit-ins, faction fighting and arson, from which Implats was not immune. A major review of the company's industrial relations policy was undertaken in order to build a relationship of trust between Impala and the major union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). It was also during this decade that mining of the UG2 reef began.

By the early 1990s, Impala had become the world's second largest platinum producer, with output of 1 million platinum ounces annually. In 1990, Implats acquired an effective interest in Western Platinum and Eastern Platinum (collectively Lonplats). In 1995, agreement was reached on a full merger with Lonplats although this was subsequently blocked by the European Union.

In 1998, IRS was established to capitalise on Implats' surplus smelting and refining capacity.

Settlement was reached in 1999 with the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN) regarding mineral rights and royalties over the major portion of the area over which Impala Platinum had mining rights.

Between 2000 and 2004, Implats acquired further mineral rights enabling it to establish Marula Platinum. It also acquired strategic stakes in Zimbabwean operations, Zimplats and Mimosa, and entered into a joint venture with the then Avmin group to develop the Two Rivers Platinum project. The stakes in Barplats and Lonplats were sold.

On the corporate front, Implats was "unbundled" as the parent company, Gencor, was wound-down.

Black economic empowerment transactions were negotiated during 2006 and 2007. Implats finalised a deal with the Royal Bafokeng Holdings (Pty) Limited (RBH) in terms of which Impala Platinum agreed to pay the Royal Bafokeng Nation (RBN) all future royalties due to them, thus effectively discharging any further obligation to pay royalties. In turn the RBN subscribed for 75.1 million Implats shares giving them a 13.4% holding in Implats. An Employee Share Ownership Programme (ESOP) was implemented during the same period giving some 28,000 lower level employees the benefit of the appreciation in value of 3% of the group’s equity. At Marula, agreements have been signed with three black economic entities giving them a combined ownership stake of 27%.