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JSE-listed Wesizwe Platinum says the installation of the main shaft headgear at its flagship Bakubung platinum mine, has been successfully completed and featured the lifting of the sheave decks and superstructures.

Guests at the milestone event were able to view the unique site of a large lattice boom crane lifting over 200 t of steel at one time, an occasion it says, has not often been seen in South Africa’s mining sector.

The equipment needed to establish the headgear usually involves normal erection cranes but on this occasion, a 1 100 t crane was used to hoist the larger sections of the headgear. When complete, the headgear will reach a height of 86 m and weigh over 1 860 t and will be one of the largest in the southern hemisphere.

The headgear construction will be completed at the end of May, after which time the main shaft will enter the slow-sink phase. We are on schedule and the project is in a good state of health and on track to meet its deadline of having the mine fully commissioned by April 2018 and of achieving full production by the third quarter of 2023, said Wesizwe Platinums projects executive Jacob Mothomogolo.

The Bakubung platinum mine is located on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex, north of Rustenburg in the North West Province. The mine is adjacent to the western boundary of Royal Bafokeng Platinum‘s Styldrift project and immediately north of Platinum Group Metal‘s Maseve‘s Project 1.

When completed, Bakubung will comprise an underground mine accessed by a twin independent vertical shaft system, an 8.5 m diameter main shaft for miners and material reaching a depth of 1 000 m, and a 7.5 m ventilation shaft reaching a depth of 930 m which will also function as the second escape route.

The main shaft will have a hoisting capacity of 230 000 t of ore and 40 000 t of waste per month. Initially, 180 000 tpm will be mined from the Merensky reef, with the balance coming from the secondary UG2 reef ore. The Bakubung mine complex will also include a process plant to treat and produce a concentrate, which will be located immediately adjacent to the mine shafts on the southern side.

The Bakubung project is being funded by a US$ 650 million long-term loan approved by the Credit Committee of the China Development Bank (CDB) in 2012. Wesizwe announced in December last year the securing of two short-term loan facilities also with the CDB of US$ 100 million each, the first loan being drawn down in December and the second loan facility to be drawn during 2013 as required.

These short-term loans will be refunded in part by the US$ 650 million long-term loan. On 27 March 2013, Wesizwe Platinum announced its annual results, reporting a consolidated profit for the year of R9.7 million.

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