The Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine Joint Venture is developing the Styldrift project in the North West Province of South Africa. Image courtesy of Bafokeng Platinum.
The underground project is expected to produce 5.4 million ounces of platinum over 27 years of mine life. Image courtesy of Bafokeng Platinum.
The winders for the shafts at the Styldrift project were installed in April 2011. Image courtesy of Bafokeng Platinum.


The Styldrift platinum mine, located in the north-west province of South Africa, is being developed by the Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine Joint Venture (BRPM JV), which is 67% owned by the mine’s operator Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBplat) and 33% by Anglo Platinum.

The platinum project is being developed in two phases, Styldrift I and Styldrift II. Construction of the R11bn (approximately $988m) Styldrift I project began in March 2009 and first production is expected in 2015. Full production ramp up for this phase is anticipated in 2018.

Styldrift I of the South African platinum mine is expected to produce 5.4 million ounces (Moz) of platinum during its 27-year mine life. It is estimated to produce 370,000oz of 4E (platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold) Platinum Group Metals (PGM) per annum along with 3,600t of nickel and 1,900t of copper a year.

Concept study for Styldrift II was completed in 2012 and the pre-feasibility study is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.

Styldrift project background, geology and reserves

BRPM JV was established by Royal Bafokeng Holding (RBH) and Anglo American Platinum in January 2002 to exploit PGM resources from Merensky and Upper Group Two (UG2) reefs on the Boschkoppie, Frischgewaagd and Styldrift farms in the North West Province of South Africa. RBH took over the operational control of BRPM through RBPlat in January 2010.

“The final concentrate will be delivered to the concentrate thickener for filtering, following which it will be trucked to the Rustenburg Platinum Mine’s (RPM) smelting and refining operations.”

The Styldrift project, situated within the boundaries of Styldrift and Frischgewaagd farms, will initially focus on the exploitation of shallow Merensky ore body located contiguously to the neighbouring Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mine. The UG2 reef is planned for extraction at a later time.

As of September 2012, the Styldrift I project was estimated to hold 50Mt of proven and probable Merensky ore reserves graded at 4.22g/t 4E, containing 6.7Moz of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold.

Styldrift project development phases

The first phase of the Styldrift platinum project includes the development of a new shaft complex approximately 5km away from BRPM’s North Shaft. A new shaft complex, a 230,000t monthly capacity concentrator plant, tailings dam, auxiliary ventilation shafts and other mine infrastructure facilities will also be developed.

The Styldrift II project, currently in exploration phase, comprises of a resource area of approximately 24 million square metres and is expected hold about 40% of the total BRPM JV resource.

Mining and processing of ore in Styldrift I

Trackless room and pillar method of underground mining will be employed to mine the thick Merensky resource areas in the Styldrift I project. The narrow Merensky reef areas are proposed to be mined using conventional breast stoping method.

The underground mine will be accessed via a twin, concrete-lined vertical shaft system comprising a 10.5m diameter main shaft and a 6.5m diameter service shaft. The main shaft will have a depth of 740m, while the service shaft will be 705m deep. A total of seven winders will be used during construction and production.

A footwall infrastructure will be developed 25m below the Merensky reef horizon for transporting ore to the shaft. The shaft system will be linked to the up-dip and down-dip on-reef roadway clusters on both the reef horizon and the footwall level. The ore will be transported to the main shaft through a network of on-strike haulages.

The run-of-mine ore from the Styldrift I mine will undergo crushing, screening, milling and flotation to produce concentrates at the nearby concentrator plant. The final concentrate will be delivered to the concentrate thickener for filtering, following which it will be trucked to the Rustenburg Platinum Mine’s (RPM) smelting and refining operations.

Associated infrastructure facilities at Styldrift-I

Power required during the mine construction is sourced from the Eskom Boschkoppie substation, via an 11kV overhead line. Power supply for the mining operations is proposed to be through two 88kV Eskom overhead lines from the Boschkoppie substation.

Ivanhoe Mines is developing the Platreef Project on the Bushveld Igneous Complex, approximately 280km north-east of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Water for the mining operations will be provided by Magalies Water. Excess water produced at the mine will be pumped to the BRPM concentrator complex and reused during ore processing.

A 1.2km gravel road links the project site with the existing access road during the construction phase, which is to be upgraded to a permanent tarred road before the start of the mining operation. A second gravel road connecting the BRPM complex with the Styldrift mine will also be built as part of this project.

Contractors involved with the South African platinum project

Aveng Mining Shafts and Underground was selected as the preferred mining contractor for the Styldrift platinum project in November 2013.

Shaft Sinkers was engaged for the sinking of both the main and service shafts for the Styldrift-I mine. Sandvik Mining was contracted for the supply of underground trackless equipment for the Styldrift project in January 2013.

Actom collaborated with GE to supply the mine winder system for the Styldrift-I underground mining project.

NRI Energy Technology