Dishaba Mine, Thabazimbi, South Africa

Dishaba Mine

Dishaba Mine, located 40km south of Thabazimbi and 15km north of Northam town in the Limpopo province of South Africa, produces platinum group metals (PGM).

Dishaba is one of the nine platinum mines 100%-owned by world's largest platinum producer Anglo American Platinum in South Africa.

The mine is operated under a mining right that covers a total area of 31km² in the north-western section of the Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC), which is the richest source of PGM worldwide.

Dishaba Mine became a stand-alone operational entity since 2009 after Anglo Platinum's Amandelbult section was restructured into two mines, namely Tumela and Dishaba. The life of the Dishaba mine extends up to 2058.

Dishaba mine's platinum reserves

"The Dishaba mine produced 291,1000oz of platinum group minerals in 2011, compared to 278,000oz in 2010.

The Dishaba mine produces platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (4E). As of December 2011, the 4E ore reserves of the mine were reported to be 15.5 million ounces (7.5 million ounces of proven and eight million ounces of probable reserves).

The mine's ore reserve tonnage at Merensky Reef and Upper Group Two (UG2) Reef decreased by 2.7% and 0.6% respectively in 2011 compared to 2010. The ore reserve grade, however, increased by 0.54g/t and 0.20g/t during the same year.

Dishaba mine infrastructure

Dishaba Mine consists of one vertical shaft, one raise bore and three incline shafts. The mine is located in a relatively flat area.

Mining is carried out on both the Merensky and UG2 reef horizons. The operating depth of Dishaba Mine ranges between 30m and 1,250m below the surface.

Dishaba mine geology

The Dishaba mine is located in the north-western section of the BIC, whose formation dates are about 2,000 million years ago.

The BIC is saucer shaped and extensive in size. It yields a wide range of mineral commodities with the PGMs concentrated in its Merensky and UG2 reefs.

The thickness of Merensky reef varies between 10cm and 300cm and the underlying UG2 reef is approximately 1.3m to 1.5m thick. The dip of these platinum bearing ore bodies is towards the south-east.

Dishaba Mine exploits both Merensky and UG2 reefs.

Mining and processing at Dishaba

Dishaba mine uses underground mining through conventional breast stoping with strike pillars.

Low-profile drilling equipment is used to drill the ore and load-haul-dump (LHD) vehicles are used to dump the ore from stopes.

"A major backfill project will be implemented at Dishaba Mine for the safe execution of mining."

The ore is processed at Anglo Platinum's Amandelbult concentrator plant located near the mine. The processing involves comminution and gravity concentration.

The next steps are smelting, converting and refining of the concentrates obtained from the plant. These are undertaken at Rustenburg Platinum Mines' (RPM) metallurgical facilities.

Platinum production at Dishaba

The Dishaba mine produced 291,1000oz of platinum group minerals in 2011, compared to 278,000oz in 2010. The refined platinum produced by the mine during the year was 161,900oz, compared to 156,00oz during in 2010.

Production at Dishaba remained intact although there were a number of safety stoppages at the mine during 2011.

Future developments at Dishaba mine

A major backfill project (Dishaba Backfill Project) will be implemented at Dishaba Mine for the safe execution of mining, which will improve the poor ground conditions at the proposed mining area.

Backfilling will be done with the use of tailings from the Amandelbult concentrator plant located 4km away from the plant.

The estimated cost of the backfill project is R150m ($17.4m). The project is expected to be complete by the last quarter of 2013.

Dishaba Mine's production from UG2 resources is expected to increase significantly with the completion of the backfill project.

Related project

Tumela Mine, Thabazimbi, South Africa

The Tumela Mine, located in the Thabazimbi District in Limpopo province of South Africa, contains platinum group metals (PGM).