Joint-venture operations and associates overview

 

JOINT VENTURES AND ASSOCIATES OVERVIEW

WITH THE FUTURE MIND

Vishnu Pillay

Vishnu Pillay

Amplats joint-venture and associate mines portfolio consists of seven mines, namely the Bafokeng-Rasimone, Kroondal, Marikana and Pandora mines situated in the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex, and the Bokoni, Modikwa and Mototolo mines found in the Eastern Limb of the complex. The joint-venture portfolio was established over a decade ago in order to promote industry transformation and to optimise Mineral Resource extraction.

The joint-venture and associate mines are primarily underground mines and are not operationally managed by Amplats. Ore mined is processed into concentrate at each mine. Amplats claims its portion and the joint-venture partners’ portion of concentrate is acquired by Amplats under purchase of concentrate agreements. The exception is the Pandora Joint Venture, where the ore is sold to Western Platinum Limited (a subsidiary of Lonmin plc).

Safety

Tragically, five employees lost their lives in the first four months of 2012 in fall-of-ground incidents, two at Modikwa Mine and one each at the Bokoni, Kroondal and BRPM mines. (There were three fatalities in 2011.) The joint-venture and associate mines subsequently proceeded to end the year on 258 days fatality free.

The overall lost-time injury-frequency rate (LTIFR) per 200,000 hours deteriorated, from 0.93 in 2011 to 1.03 in 2012. There were nevertheless notable reductions in the LTIFR at the Bafokeng-Rasimone, Mototolo, Bokoni and Pandora mines.

While the total number of section 54 instructions at joint ventures and associates remained the same year-on-year at 48, the total equivalent refined platinum ounces lost decreased from 25 koz in 2011 to 22 koz in 2012.

Operational review

Equivalent refined platinum ounces from joint ventures and associates, inclusive of both mined and purchased production, decreased by 3% from 2011 to 704,688 ounces. The production in 2012 was impacted mainly by industrial action at Modikwa Mine (11,000 ounces lost) and Bokoni Mine (19,000 ounces lost); and also by the curtailment of Marikana Mine in June 2012. Together, the joint-venture and associate mines contributed 32% towards Amplats’ total equivalent refined platinum ounces.

Joint ventures’ cash on-mine costs (mining and concentrating) attributable to Amplats per tonne milled was R787, up by 17% on 2011. Joint ventures’ productivity achieved was 9.75 m² per employee (including concentrator employees), 10% above performance in 2011. Joint ventures’ built-up 4E head grade and concentrator recovery were 3.75 g/t (3.74 g/t in 2011) and 82.5% (80.4% in 2011) respectively.

Capital

Amplats’ attributable capital expenditure for the joint-venture mines during 2012 was R581 million (R599 million in 2011), of which R174 million was spent on projects and R407 million on stay-in-business projects. Project capital includes primarily the Phase 2 expansion at Modikwa Platinum Mine and the K6 Shaft Project at Kroondal Platinum Mine.

In 2012, Amplats and Atlatsa Resources agreed in principle to the restructuring, recapitalisation and refinancing of Atlatsa and Bokoni Platinum Holdings Proprietary Limited.

Outlook

Equivalent refined production from the joint-venture and associate mines is expected to increase marginally in 2013, primarily driven by productivity improvements at Kroondal following the implementation of a revised hanging-wall support regime, and continued operational improvements and open-pit mining at Bokoni Mine.