Wesizwe Platinum’s Bakubung Platinum Mine (BPM) development has been delayed, with the hot commissioning date now set for October 2021.
The Bakubung Platinum Mine (BPM) continues with mine development despite the numerous challenges associated with the COVID-19 lockdown and the 3 months’ delays experienced.
The COVID-19 pandemic compliance requirements imposed restrictions and required new and innovative ways of working, agile responses and constant review and change of plans when required.
Given the pandemic, all mine personnel were screened for COVID-19 at the beginning of May 2020 when the industry was allowed to restart. The COVID-19 positivity rate commenced at ZERO after the initial testing exercise of 1 036 tests. By the end of the reporting period, the Company experienced only 1 positive case.
A specialist company was brought on board for the COVID-19 management and medical services supply to the mine. The original targets set for 2020 and beyond have been affected by lockdown delays and slow start of teams upon return.
BPM also had an unfortunate fall of ground incident on the 14th May 2020, which resulted in an unfortunate and regrettable loss of life. The current forecast for the 2020 production target is set to about 50% of the original plan.
During the first six months of the year the Group spent a total amount R6.9 million as a response to staff health risks posed by COVID-19.
ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT
a) The planned underground infrastructure commissioning dates for clear water dams, ore handling and pump stations have been deferred to later dates due to the slow-down in development rates during lockdown. Catch-up plans, which includes turn-key scope of works, are being implemented to ensure recovery of lost time.
b) Surface commissioning of permanent services supply for water, ventilation, compressed air and diesel have been re-energised to improve on the latest forecast dates.
c) Underground workshops, loading bays and ventilation cross overs are almost completed on 69 level & 72 level and will be ready before time to start of stoping in 2021.
Although the COVID-19 lockdown impacted adversely on the process plant construction schedule, design work, some procurement functions and administrative work could still be executed. The start of construction was however delayed until the partial re-opening of the industry in May 2020.
The delays on site establishment, earthworks and civils will delay the installation and commissioning of major equipment, which impacts on the ultimate hot commissioning date. The new date for hot commissioning is October 2021.
The public consultations required for the Integrated Water Use License Application and Environmental Impact Assessment amendments have also been affected by the lockdown, but the proposed remote participation has been granted by the departments.
The delayed process will affect the start of the tailings and stockpad commissioning dates, which are now envisaged to be in June and March 2021, respectively.
The mine hoisted a total of 18 544 reef tonnes and 38 970 waste tonnes 66 994 reef tonnes and 86 809 waste tonnes.
The mine operating unit costs per metre and per tonne are 251% and 216% higher than plan due to lower efficiencies in production and the overhead costs which remained flat. The additional costs for COVID-19 compliance also added to the variance.