Northam has achieved another major project milestone with the completion of drilling of its No 3 Shaft, at a world record depth of 1 382 metres at the group’s Zondereinde mine in the western bushveld.

Work on the No 3 shaft at Zondereinde’s significant brownfields capital expansion project, the Western extension, started in early 2020. “This project milestone was delivered on time and on budget by the Zondereinde team, in collaboration with our project service provider, Master Drilling,” said Northam CEO Paul Dunne.

Zondereinde’s Western extension is a quality resource block containing 21 million ounces of PGM within the high-grade Merensky and UG2 orebodies. The resource was purchased in 2017 for R1 billion. The addition of the Western extension improves operational flexibility at Zondereinde and will permit annual PGM output to increase to 350 000 ounces 4E by 2026. It also extends the remaining life of the operation to over 30 years.

Mining activity from the existing workings of the Zondereinde mine will gradually transition into the Western extension block. The new shaft complex is situated some four kilometres from the original Zondereinde Mine complex, a distance which constrains service delivery and logistics. The new shaft will transport people and materials, as well as allow the supply of services, including backfill, chilled service water and ventilation, to the underground workings. This will alleviate the challenges associated with distance from the existing Zondereinde shafts.

The Zondereinde mine, situated in Limpopo Province near Thabazimbi is a key contributor to social upliftment and development in the area. The development of no. 3 shaft will secure the jobs of Zondereinde’s current employee complement of 10 700, as well as an additional 600 permanent positions. This provides the impetus for further economic activity in the province.

 “The resultant long-term stability and life of mine extension delivered by this project will have a beneficial impact on the mine, its stakeholders and the local economy for decades to come,” concluded Dunne.

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