The first platinum mining activity on the Boschkoppie Farm, where BRPM is located, started with drilling in 1950. Mining operations on the Merensky Reef started in the early 1950s, but were abandoned in 1956. Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Co Ltd (JCI) undertook additional exploration campaigns at Boschkoppie in 1956 and intersected UG2 mineralisation that year. Then between 1993 and 1996, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) drilled 57 boreholes, and between 1997 and 2001 they drilled more than 120 boreholes to delineate the UG2 ore body for opencast mining. Then from 2001 onwards, their exploration campaigns focused on the Merensky Reef at Boschkoppie.

In 2002, Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH) and Amplats established a 50:50 joint venture and in January 2010 RBH acquired a 67% interest in the JV and took over operational control through RBPlat.

  Our BRPM operation

In November 1997 construction at BRPM began under the management of Anglo American Platinum. The capital cost was R1.4 billion. The first opencast blast took place in January 1998, with underground mining starting in December 1998 and the concentrator plant was commissioned in 1999. The mine was scheduled to reach full production in January 2002, after a 15-month build-up period. This date was brought forward by the exploitation of some 2.2 million tonnes of surface material from the Merensky and UG2 opencast mines. The Merensky opencast mine was operational from December 1998 to October 2002, and the UG2 opencast mine was operational from January 2000 to April 2004. The first concentrate was produced in December 1999.

BRPM has twin decline shaft complexes − the North and South shafts (as well as a smaller, now defunct South-D shaft, in the south of the property). Historically, the operation has focused exclusively on the mining of the Merensky Reef, but now also mines its UG2 reserves.

  Phase III North shaft replacement project

This project involves the extension of the North shaft Merensky decline system and associated infrastructure from 10 level down to the mining boundary at 15 level. The project at year end was 94% complete with all capital development complete and only the 14 and 15 level construction related scope, which was deferred to 2017, remaining.

The deferment will have no impact on the mine extraction plan as project completion remains aligned with our revised project milestones dates.

The project remains below budget, with expenditure for 2016 amounting to R44 million and R1 036 million for the project to date.