Murray & Roberts Cementation got off to a good start on a prestigious R1.3-bn contract to develop four declines for Northam’s new Booysendal Platinum Mine – a greenfields underground UG2 project on the Bushveld Complex’s eastern limb in Mpumalanga, adjacent to the Everest and Mototolo operations near Lydenburg.

Awarded in November 2010, this four year project is one of the biggest Murray & Roberts Cementation has been involved in for some time and will call for more than 1,000 people on site at its peak. The first stoping reef tons are expected to get to surface as early as January 2012, ramping up to a monthly run-of-mine rate of 187,000t. This will allow the plant to produce a steady state 160,000 oz per annum.

Successful start-up blasting earlier this year has been followed by steady progress on Booysendal’s first module, which comprises three on-reef declines and a footwall decline, accessed by two reverse declines.

A unique aspect of the project is that the mine and decline entrances will be separated from the processing plant by a mountain, to avoid spoiling the picturesque valley in which the mine is being established. The decline shafts will be accessed through the mountains to connect the mine to the plant.

Although the Murray & Roberts Cementation team is committed to developing the shaft systems as quickly as possible to ensure ore tons will be available on time in the volumes required, safety remains a top priority. From November 2010 to date, there have been no lost time Injuries (LTIs). This important achievement has primarily been attributed to the behaviour change process (BCP) being implemented by both Murray & Roberts Cementation and Northam Platinum. BCP is all about encouraging individuals to recognise where they need to change their behaviours as part of a process of becoming more safety-orientated.