Bathopele Mine, Rustenburg, South Africa
Bathopele platinum mine is a part of Western Limb of Bushveld Igneous Complex and is located near Rustenburg town of South Africa. It is extended in an area of 17km² and produces an estimated 280,000t of platinum a month.
The mine is accessed through east and central shafts. A new region called the west shaft is being developed from 2011 and is accessed underground from the central shaft.
Bathopele mine is 100% owned by Anglo American and produces palladium along with platinum. The mine is expected to operate up to 2026.
Bathopele mine geology
Marikana is located near Rustenburg, about 112km from Johannesburg in South Africa.
Bathopele mine is a part of the Bushveld Igneous Complex located in the central Transvaal province. It is a pear-shaped area divided into eastern, western, and northern sections. The rock sections are believed have formed two billion years ago.
The Bushveld Complex is a layered igneous intrusion and is extended in an area of 66,000km². It comprises a felsic phase, along with layered mafic intrusions.
The complex is made up of Upper Group 2 (UG2) reef, Merensky reef, and Plat reef. Around 90% of world's platinum group metals are found in UG2 and Merensky reefs. The UG2 reef comprises of 43.5% chromite while the Merensky reef contains huge deposits of chromite and sulphide.
The Transvaal basin contains large deposits of platinum group metals along with iron, tin, chromium, and vanadium.
Bathopele mine development
The platinum mine is being developed in five phases. Phase 3 development was approved in February 2007 and mainly developed to limit the extension of the east and central shafts and the mining and infrastructure installation activity in phase 3 completed in 2010.
The fourth phase is an ore replacement process with an incremental production of 108,000oz per annum. It was approved in October 2008 and full production started in 2012. It involves extending the mine down-dip area, installing new infrastructure, and establishing replacement sections at an estimated investment of $76m.
Bathopele mine phase 5 is also an ore replacement project and is currently in pre-feasibility stage. It was approved for implementation in 2005 and is expected to reach full production in 2018. The estimated investment on phase 5 is $1.23bn.
Phase 5 exploits the UG2 reserves by way of extending the east and central decline shafts along with performing mining activities in the west shaft. The refined platinum production in phase 5 is expected to be 136,000oz per annum.
Bathopele mine reserves
The Bathopele mine contains estimated reserves of 3.8 million ounces of platinum.
Mining at Bathopele
Mining activity at Bathopele involves the Bord and Pillar mining layout in the low profile (LP) section, while breast mining layout is applied for the extra low profile (XLP) section. Mining is carried out depths ranging from 40m to 350m below the surface.
Ore is blasted out of the rock and transported to surface using conveyor belts. It is then taken to the Rustenburg Platinum Mine's metallurgical facilities for concentrating and refinement.
Anglo American uses Preprufe sealing strip technology at Bathopele to block the exterior and closed surfaces for unset concretes at the mine. The system helps in maintaining permeability and providing watertight and gas proof building.
Contractors involved with Batopele platinum mine
Dywidag-Systems International (DSI) supplied rock bolts and accessories, and provided technical support, customised products, and services to the mine. It also provided reliable system solutions and different range of mining products to the platinum mine.