Aquarius Platinum and Anglo Platinum have reached a ‘pooling and sharing’ agreement around the UG2 ore reserves bordering Aquarius Platinum’s existing Kroondal Mine. In doing so, Aquarius Platinum will double production by 2006, to 505,000 PGM ounces, and extend the life of the mine by eight years to 2016. This arrangement came into effect in November 2003.

The two companies will pool and share mineral rights and assets, and develop plant and infrastructure to mine and process the UG2 ore reserves. The operation will run as a single mining entity although both parties will retain ownership of the assets they contributed, with revenues, costs and profits being shared equally. Production at Kroondal was due to tail off in 2006, with costs rising and efficiencies decreasing as mining continued along the so-called farm-fence boundaries. Now, Aquarius’s attributable production at Kroondal will increase from mid 2005, and the mine life will be extended.

Dowding Reynard & Associates (DRA) was appointed by AQPSA to assist in the development of the new project. The scope of worked managed by DRA is valued at R821 million and will include the design, construction and commissioning of mining equipment, processing plant and infrastructure.

Scope of work

In terms of the agreement, DRA will manage the construction and commissioning of a new 300 000tpm UG2 concentrator, due to be commissioned early in 2005. In addition, DRA will procure, install and commission all underground equipment, and for the first time, will share management of mining development in conjunction with Aquarius Platinum and Cementation Mining.

The concentrator will comprise the following:

  • Two stage crushing
  • Waste removal by DMS
  • Primary and secondary milling and flotation (MF2 configuration)
  • A spiral plant to remove chromite after primary milling
  • Cleaner flotation
  • A tailings disposal system
  • Concentrate dispatch to the smelter as a high density slurry

As per the original Kroondal the bord and pillar system of mechanised mining will be used.

The development plan was prepared during the second half of 2003 and approved in December with full project mobilisation on 5 January 2004. The project is currently in the detail design and engineering phase. The South African Department of Minerals and Energy approved the Environmental Management Programme Report (EMPR) at the end of February, enabling mining and construction to commence on time. Civil construction began in April, and fabrication of structural steelwork is proceeding on schedule. Commissioning is planned for the end of the first quarter in 2005.