Marikana (Western Platinum Limited and Eastern Platinum Limited) is a large, established shallow to moderate depth PGM mining complex located in the Marikana district, 40km to the east of the town of Rustenburg in the North West province of South Africa.
Statistics as at 31 December 2022
Life of mine
Production 4E PGM
All-in sustaining cost
employees and contractors
Marikana currently has six operating shafts: 4 Belt (4B), K3, K4, Rowland, Saffy, and E3. The Merensky and the UG2 reefs are mined simultaneously at an average depth of 500m and are accessed via infrastructure consisting of shallow incline and deeper vertical shafts. The 4B shallow incline, and the K3, K4 and Rowland vertical shafts target both the Merensky Reef and UG2 reef horizons, while the E3 shallow incline and the Saffy vertical shaft target only the UG2 reef. The vertical shaft complexes account for the largest portion of the Mineral Reserves.
As at 31 December 2022, Marikana had 4E PGM Mineral Reserves of 17.4Moz and 4E PGM Mineral Resources. of 102.8Moz. These estimates include tailings.
- In 1987, the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company Limited (Lonhro) commissioned the sinking of the Rowland Shaft
- By 1989 the Karee mine shafts were operational
- In 1998, Lonhro PLC split and Lonhro Africa PLC was formed
- In 1999, Lonhro PLC was renamed to Lonmin PLC
- In 2000, Lonmin PLC sold off all non-PGM assets and became a primary PGM producer
- In 2001, the eastern declines were sunk, Saffy shaft was commissioned and Lonmin entered into a JV with Anglo American Platinum for the Pandora property
- By 2003, the Hossy Shaft was commissioned with the K4 Shaft commissioned in 2006
- In 2011, the K3 Shaft decline was sunk
- in 2012, the K4 Shaft was placed on care and maintenance
- In 2016, Saffy Shaft began to produce at full capacity
- In 2018, Lonmin acquired 100% of the Pandora JV from Anglo American Platinum
- In 2019, Sibanye-Stillwater acquired Lonmin Plc
- In 2021, the resumption of the K4 Project was approved
Major infrastructure consists of
- Five vertical shafts, of which four are in production and one on care and maintenance
- Five incline shafts of which two are in operation and the remainder are on care and maintenance
- Eight PGM concentrator plants
- A smelter plant with five furnaces, a base metal refinery plant, and a precious metal refinery plant
- Three hospitals/ medical centres
- Workshops, office blocks, a laboratory, and equipment stores
- Accommodation quarters and hostels
- Water treatment plants
The Mineral Reserves are mined using conventional underground mining methods. The 4B and E3 shallow incline shafts extend to depths of approximately 400m below surface; the K3, Rowland and Saffy vertical shafts extend to approximately 900m below surface and the K4 vertical shaft to 1130m. 45% or 46.3Moz of the total Mineral Resources are above infrastructure (AI) and 55% or 56.5Moz are below shaft bottom infrastructure (BI). The main contributing factor to this being the large Mineral Resource base in the Merensky Reef that has not yet been mined.
The fresh ore mined at the Marikana operations is processed through four of the eight concentrators on site (of which two are on care and maintenance and two treating tailings material), with a combined fresh ore milling capacity of approximately 600,000t per month. The concentrate is dispatched to the smelter where a sulphide-rich matte is produced for further processing at the Base Metal Refinery (BMR). At the BMR, base metals (nickel and copper) are extracted and the resulting PGM-rich product is sent to the Precious Metal Refinery (PMR) in Brakpan for final treatment. The PMR produces the final refined precious metal products.
In addition to the underground operations, there are also two tailings retreatment operations:
- The re-mining of eastern tailings dam 1 (ETD1) occurs by hydraulic mining with high pressure water guns and the tailings are retreated at the Bulk Tailings Treatment (BTT) plant
- Tailings from the EPL concentrator, post the chrome recovery unit, are pumped to the ETTP plant where a portion of the remaining PGMs are recovered
The mineral rights for the Marikana operations comprise several mining rights, and are divided between WPL and EPL.
There are four mining rights within WPL, which have been converted to new order mining rights NW30/5/1/2/2/107MR (29.3 km², expires 03 September 2037), NW30/5/1/2/2/106MR (101.7 km², expires 03 September 2037), NW30/5/1/2/2/161MR (1.8 km², expires 20 December 2036) and NW30/5/1/2/2/190MR (0.3 km², expires 20 December 2036).
There are five mining rights within EPL which have been converted to new order mining rights NW30/5/1/2/2/109MR (38.2 km², expires 03 September 2037), NW30/5/1/2/2/110MR (0.6 km², expires 03 September 2037) and NW30/5/1/2/2/111MR (1.7 km², expires 03 September 2037). The mining rights NW30/5/1/2/2/292MR (46.2km², expires 22 January 2044) and NW30/5/1/2/2/433MR (42.9 km², expires 22 January 2044) cover the eastern half of EPL (the Pandora area).
The ETD1 is located within the area covered by new order mining right NW30/5/1/2/2/109 MR on the farm Turffontein 462JQ.
The renewal of the Schaapkraal prospecting right (NW30/5/1/1/2/12331PR, 41.74Km²), which covers the western downdip extension at Marikana, expired in August 2022. A prospecting right renewal was submitted timeously and the outcome is awaited. No Mineral Resources are declared for Schaapkraal at this stage.
Tailings deposition is managed in an integrated manner across the Tailings Storage Facilities detailed below
- Karee Tailings Dam 2 – Fed from K3 UG2 plant at 101ktpm (life of TSF until 2025 at current deposition rate)
- Karee Tailings Dam 3 – Fed from K3 Mix plant at 147ktpm (life of TSF until 2024 at current deposition rate)
- Karee Tailings Dam 4 – Fed from K4 plant at 116ktpm (life of TSF until 2044 at current deposition rate)
- Eastern Tailings Dam 2 – Fed from EPL and ETTP plants at 160ktpm (life of TSF until 2028 at current deposition rate)
- Western Platinum Tailings Dam 6 – Fed from BTT plant at 270ktpm (life of TSF until 2030 at current deposition rate)
The Marikana TSF’s have a remaining capacity of 70Mt. The LoM requires 172.9Mt TSF capacity, resulting in a shortfall of 102.9Mt. The current capacity constraints will be mitigated through the integrated consolidated surface operations strategy which addresses tailings deposition at the SA PGM segment, across all three operations. Due to the synergistic nature of the operations, the short to medium term approach will therefore be to divert tailings to other existing Group facilities within the SA PGM operations.
The K4 project, is currently in build-up phase with a focus on infrastructure completion and primary development. Production commenced during 2022. At steady state, mining production is planned at 2.3Mtpa, yielding approximately 250Koz 4E PGMs per annum.
The E3 UG2 inclined shaft deepening and extension project is a brownfields expansion of the current E3 mine, down-dip to current workings and will serve as replacement ore for E3. The target is for the implementation of a mechanised mining section as an extension of the existing conventional mine. Further geo-technical drilling in the area is planned during 2023, after which a feasibility study will commence. Similarly, the E4 area (also historically called Pandora) requires further geo-technical drilling prior to the commencement of a feasibility study.
Other brownfields studies that will be advanced during 2023 are the Saffy Deeps (UG2) project and the Newman (MER) project. The possibility of increasing the re-treating rate of tailings at Marikana will also be investigated during 2023.