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 owned by one of the world’s biggest platinum producers 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 was considered the richest source of PGM worldwide at that time.
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.
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 Upper Group 2 (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.
Dishaba mine’s platinum reserves
The Dishaba mine produces platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (4E). The total 4E ore reserves of Merensky and UG2 Reef were 8.4Moz (7.2Moz of proved and 1.2Moz of probable), as of December 2019.
The reserve life of the Dishaba mine increased to more than 21 years as of December 2019.
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.
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.
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 Amandelbult complex produced 453,600oz of platinum and 893,300oz of PGM in 2019. The platinum production is expected to reach 470,400oz in 2020 while the PGM production is expected to increase to 924,600oz.
Chrome recovery plant at Amandelbult
Anglo American Platinum completed a feasibility study for a chrome recovery plant at the Amandelbult complex in 2013 and received construction approval in 2014. The plant was commissioned in 2016.
The chrome recovery plant yields recoveries up to 18% per tonne of UG2 ore processed. The total production from the chrome plant of the Amandelbult complex was increased by 9% to 908,700 tonnes (t) of chrome concentrate in 2019, compared to 831,900t in 2018.