Work at Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s Styldrift 1 and BRPM replacement projects is progressing ahead of target.

In its review and production report for the March quarter 2014, released last week, Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) said its expansion and replacement projects remain on track and within budget.

While the company suffered production losses and increased costs due to safety stoppages and maintenance, it reported that Styldrift 1 experienced no serious or lost-time injures during the quarter .This means the project has been without fatalities for the past three financial years.

RBPlat’s expansion capital expenditure increased by 72%, to R249.7 million, which it said was in line with the accelerated construction schedule at Styldrift I.

Progress at Styldrift 1 is developing ahead of schedule, with 527 metres achieved during the quarter, compared to the planned 452m. Sinking at the main shaft has progressed to a depth of 708m (708L), and the service shaft to 723m.

The key focus for the project now, says RBPlat, is to complete the remaining lateral development on 708L, in order to start sinking the main shaft to its final depth of 758m below collar.

The Styldrift 1 expansion is located within a block of shallow Merensky Reef deposits, and is scheduled to achieve steady state production in Q4 2018. The plan is for Styldrift to eventually increase RBPlat’s production by 230 ktpm.

The project has a capital budget of R11.8 billion, including the mining and concentrator portions. The main shaft hoisting systems are set to be completed by Q4 2014, with the remaining lateral development at reef level to continue until June 2015. A planned 36-month production ramp-up will then begin, bringing the mine to steady state in 2018.

Capital expenditure for the quarter was R242.40 million, which is in line with progress made, says RBPlat. Total expenditure for the project in 2014 is forecast at R1.908 billion, as planned, including the concentrator project, contingencies and escalation. At the end of the March quarter, the project-to-date commitment was R3.611 billion and expenditure to date was R2.753 billion.

Overall the project is 44.7% complete, ahead of the 43.06% target.

In terms of the BRPM Phase III replacement project, replacement capital expenditure dropped by 14%, to R32.5 million. This was due to mining-related savings on the Phase III decline extension project. This project extends the North shaft Merensky decline system and associated infrastructure from 10 level to the mining boundary at 15 level, to extend the life of Merensky at North shaft.

The project remains below budget, with expenditure for the quarter at R32.46 million, and R617.79 million for the project to date.

Overall the project is 61% complete – some 6% ahead of schedule.