Murray & Roberts Cementation is playing a key role in the Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) for Wesizwe Platinum Limited’s proposed Frischgewaagd-Ledig Project in the Pilanesberg. “We have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Wesizwe in this regard,” Mike Wells, Murray & Roberts Cementation general manager, says.

“Apart from being appointed as the preferred contractor to sink the shafts, Murray & Roberts Cementation will play a fundamental part in the Bankable Feasibility Study team. The primary objective here is to ensure optimisation of the shaft design, ensure constructability, determine methodology, commitment to the shaft sinking programme and to reach consensus with the design engineers, project managers, owners’ team, the client and ourselves as principle contractor on the cost of the project. This will ensure that on completion of the BFS the final engineering design and project cost is completely bedded down and the client can move seamlessly from BFS directly into Capital Construction. Part of this process will include the finalisation of the contract for execution. It is anticipated that mobilisation for shaft sinking will proceed during the second quarter of 2008,” Wells says.

In terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, the project is divided into three distinct phases. Phase One has seen Murray & Roberts Cementation join the project design team to give experienced input with regard to the design and project execution. This will make a significant contribution to the BFS, the results of which are expected to be released in the first quarter of 2008.

Phase Two will commence around March 2008, and will see Murray & Roberts Cementation embark on a vertical mine access system and related surface and underground infrastructure. In Phase Three, scheduled for between 2010 and 2011, Murray & Roberts Cementation will see through the capital development that will establish the mine as a going concern.

“The project has gathered significant momentum, and is on track for release completion of the BFS and the commencement of capital construction during 2008. A 3D geo-seismic survey has been completed and the provisional results are very encouraging. Drilling geared up to upgrade the established resource inventory is progressing well,” Michael Solomon, Wesizwe Platinum Limited CEO, says.

“We are very satisfied with our progress to date and what remains now is to raise the money and build the mine. We are confident of achieving both objectives, but our relationship with our design and project engineers TWP and our principal contractor, Murray & Roberts Cementation, is absolutely fundamental to our ability in this respect. We do not regard these two companies as mere suppliers of goods and services, but as key components of our team. This partnership is critical to our success and provided they match their joint performance on the Impala 20 Shaft project, we will have achieved in five years what most similar projects have taken ten years to complete. This alone will significantly enhance the underlying value we have already created in the core project, and we look forward to a very exciting project.”

Wells explains that the Wesizwe project is similar in design to surrounding platinum mine projects. Wesizwe will comprise a main shaft and a ventilation shaft along with appropriate surface infrastructure and a concentrator. Two annual tonnage options (180,000tpm and 240,000tpm) are being considered in the BFS, and this will inform the respective shaft diameters. However, irrespective of shaft diameters, the main shaft will bottom out 950 metres below surface, while the depth of the ventilation shaft has not yet been finalised.

Due to the flat lying nature of the reef, the shaft will have a single level entry point to the reef. All underground service infrastructure will be located on this level. Rapid access and build-up will be achieved by means of mechanised development techniques. There will be a refrigeration plant on the surface to optimise the effectiveness of the airflow reticulation system, operating in tandem with a service water cooling facility.

The mining scenarios under consideration will include a range of hybrid stoping and cleaning methods. This will incorporate conventional drilling and blasting and an evaluation of both conventional face cleaning (scrapers) or mechanised cleaning (load-haul dumpers).

The mine will comprise five levels, namely an upper and lower tramming level, a crusher level, a belt level and a UG2 level. It is expected that Wesizwe will produce 180,000t a month with a total Run Of Mine (ROM) production of 2.1 million tons of ore per annum, producing approximately 260,000oz of 4E (platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold) in concentrate.

In terms of the ongoing BFS, by end May 2007, an accelerated drilling programme utilising 14 drill rigs had achieved 43,932m of core, 41 boreholes and 89 deflections since the last mineral resource estimates, dated December 2006. Murray & Roberts Cementation is working in conjunction with TWP Consulting, the design engineer and project manager. Total mineral resources of 13.5 million project ounces, contained in 83mt of Merensky and UG2 reef, have been delineated by the current drilling programme.

“Concurrent diversification of mining infrastructure has been planned for the project, as well as the integration of the mine into the community social infrastructure and the tourist environment. Instead of competing with the high density tourist industry in the area, it is planned that the operation will, as far as is possible and without detracting from operational efficiencies or economics, supplement the tourism potential of the region. Underlying these imperatives is to catalyse, through this approach, a sustainable non-mining economic future for the local community once the mine has been depleted and rehabilitated,” Solomon says.

Murray & Roberts Cementation is committed to world-class fulfilment, safety and a healthy environment. Its leadership and its personnel offer clients unsurpassed industry knowledge, skill and experience in all aspects of mining project delivery, from concept to commissioning. It aims to be the first-choice mining contractor in the global market, offering the best-value hard-rock underground mine development and contracting mining solutions.