Aquarius Platinum’s Marikana Platinum Mine has extended its trial mining contract, originally awarded in 2005, with Murray & Roberts Cementation at its No 1 Shaft and newly planned No 2 Shaft. The estimated annual revenue from the project is R45 million and the project will, at steady state, employ some 400 people.

The trial mining contract (now designated as No 1 Shaft) initially entailed the sinking of a 300m decline and the removal of reef with the objective of the decline being to test viability of mining in the area. As the trial mining contract was concluded, mining operations continued, followed by the installation of ventilation and conveyor belt systems. This was done to enable removal of ore from underground by Murray & Roberts Cementation as mining progressed deeper.

This operation is relatively small compared to the other shafts operated by Murray & Roberts Cementation at its Marikana and Kroondal operations, and is planned, at steady state, to deliver a combined 50,000 tons per month from the two shafts. Management of the project will be undertaken by the Marikana No 4 Shaft management team.

Unique features of the project include the following:

  • The decline at No 1 Shaft was started from the bottom of the open pit. The same planning has been done for No 2 Shaft, where the high wall was available for preparation during December 2006, after which the decline sinking commenced
  • The dip of the reef varies between 9 degrees and anything up to 25 degrees. The other shafts maintain a steady reef dip between 9 degrees and 12 degrees. This will necessitate that the mining method change from the current room and pillar method to a more hybrid system, where LHD’s will only operate in the drives and a conventional panel mining layout will be adopted
  • Reef widths and intermediate waste in this area also varies and stoping widths have been recorded at between 1.8m and 4.0m. This is problematic in attempting to determine a single mining method. The challenge is to have crews and supervision adapted to deal with all the changes in condition whilst ensuring best mining practice
  • The contract pricing has been structured such that crews and equipment can be moved between projects including the Marikana No 1, No 2 and No 4 shafts to create resource flexibility should the need arise through adverse conditions at any of the shafts
  • Site establishment will be limited, since it is in the bottom of the pit. As with any similar operation, the rainy season poses its own challenges

Design and planning skills will be tested on this project as well as the ability of the trained crews to be flexible to the mining conditions.

The official start date of the project was 22nd September 2006 and as with the other Kroondal and Marikana projects being undertaken by Murray & Roberts Cementation, this is a three-year rolling contract renewable yearly.

More About Murray & Roberts Cementation

As a world class mining contractor, Murray & Roberts Cementation is the recognised global industry leader.

The company’s market focus is mine infrastructure development of shallow and deep level underground mines and contract mining (mainly mechanised).

The company’s service offering for mining and processing plant projects includes conceptual studies, specialist feasibility studies, engineering and mine design, project and construction management, fabrication, erection and construction, commissioning, shaft sinking and contract mining.

Mining services offered include small to large diameter raisedrilling and shaft boring, blind boxholing, water sealing and cementation injections, high pressure underground water plugs, cover drilling and cement grouting, exploration drilling (surface and underground), drop raising and long hole drilling, and underground civil and construction works.