Rustenburg is a shallow to intermediate level PGM operation, with surface sources and concentrators located on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Complex, northeast of the town of Rustenburg in the North West Province of South Africa, some 120 km north-west of Johannesburg.
Statistics as at 31 December 2022
Life of mine
TSF material: 2025
Production 4E PGM
All-in sustaining cost
employees and contractors
The Rustenburg operation consists of three intermediate depth vertical shafts that utilise a conventional mining method at Siphumelele 1, Khuseleka 1, and Thembelani 1 – while the mechanised Bathopele inclined shafts utilise a shallow inclined bord and pillar mining method.
As at 31 December 2022, Rustenburg had total attributable 4E PGM Mineral Reserves of 10.2Moz and 64.0Moz of 4E PGM Mineral Resources.
A closer look
- In 1925, exploration on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex started
- In 1929, the first vertical shaft at Rustenburg section was sunk at what was to become Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd
- In 1935, the Waterfall Vertical Shaft was constructed, while the Central Deep Shaft and the Siphumelele 3 Shaft were constructed in 1951 and 1953, respectively
- Johannesburg Consolidated Investments (JCI) acquired a controlling interest in Rustenburg Platinum Mines and eventually the principal shareholder of JCI was Anglo American, which acquired a controlling interest in JCI in 1960
- The control ultimately passed on from JCI when Anglo American Platinum came into being in 1995 when JCI was unbundled
- In 2016, Sibanye-Stillwater acquired Rustenburg Platinum Operations from Anglo American Platinum
The Mineral Resource is accessed to 34 Level (the lowest working level) at Siphumelele 1 Shaft, approximately 1,350m below surface, to 28 Level (the lowest working level) at Khuseleka 1 Shaft, approximately 950m below surface, and 29 Level (the lowest working level) at Thembelani 1 Shaft, approximately 1,030m below surface. The Mineral Resource at Bathopele shaft is accessed via two decline clusters to a depth of approximately 500m below surface. 67% or 42.4Moz of the total Mineral Resources are above infrastructure and 33% or 20.9Moz are below infrastructure.
The vertical shafts mine both the Merensky Reef and UG2 Reef horizons, while the shallow, mechanised Bathopele shaft only mines the UG2 Reef. The underground ore is treated at the Waterval UG2 and Waterval Retrofit concentrators, with the concentrate processed in terms of a toll agreement by Anglo American Platinum. The Waterval UG2 concentrator has an integrated chrome recovery circuit, which recovers a chrome concentrate from the ore.
Key infrastructure consists of
- Eleven vertical shafts, of which three are in production and the rest on care and maintenance
- Two incline shafts (at Bathopele), mined on a bord-and-pillar system with mechanised equipment
- Four PGM concentrator plants, with two of the concentrators treating underground material and two of the concentrators treating surface or tailings material
- One hospital/ medical centre
- Workshops, office blocks and equipment stores
- Accommodation and hostels
- Water treatment plants
The vertical shafts make use of conventional handheld equipment, combined with rail-bound equipment for logistical movement of ore, men and material, while the inclined shaft operation makes use of tired, low-profile, mechanised equipment.
In addition to the underground operations, there are also two tailings retreatment operations
- Western Limb Tailings Retreatment Plant (WLTRP) treats tailings from the old Waterval TSF, which is hydro mined
- Tailings from the Waterval TSFs and live tailings from Waterval UG2 and Retrofit concentrators are retreated at the Platinum
Also included into the Rustenburg operation is the Hoedspruit Prospecting Right area, which forms a natural north east extension to the Siphumelele 1 shaft Mineral Resource.
Sibanye Rustenburg Platinum Mines (Pty) Ltd (SRPM) is the holder of a converted mining right under the DMRE Ref No NW30/5/1/2/2/82MR (SRPM MR) measuring 153 km² in extent and valid from 29 July 2010 to 28 July 2040.
The SRPM mining right was registered in the Mineral and Petroleum Titles Registration Office (MPTRO) on 3 October 2011 under Ref No 67/2011.
Tailings deposition is managed across the Tailings Storage Facilities detailed below
- Paardekraal TSF (PK4 & PK5) – Fed from Waterval UG2 and Waterval Retrofit plants after PGM extraction at Plat Mile, at 750ktpm (life of TSF until 2069 with activation of PK5 dormant area)
- Paardekraal TSF (PK Central) – Fed from Waterval UG2 and Waterval Retrofit plants after PGM extraction at Platinum Mile, at 250ktpm (life of TSF until 2026)
- Hoedspruit TSF – Fed from WLTRP plants at 480ktpm (life of TSF until 2044)
The Rustenburg TSF’s have a remaining capacity of 225Mt. The LoM requires 120.7 Mt, resulting in a surplus of 104.3Mt. The current capacity can be increased further through the activation of the PK5 dormant area. This surplus feeds into the integrated SA PGM tailings management strategy and will alleviate and address shortages elsewhere.
The feasibility study into the Siphumelele UG2 project is ongoing and is expected to be completed during 2023. The Merensky reef mining at Siphumelele 1 shaft is nearing completion and the study considers replacing Merensky production with UG2 while optimising the boundary between Siphumelele and the Kroondal shafts. In addition, the Thembelani Deeps (MER) project is currently in feasibility study phase, with the aim to enhance the Merensky tonnage output production beyond the current LoM estimates. As a natural extension of current mining operations, a UG2 Reef Ore Replacement Project is already being executed at Thembelani shaft and will target eight levels below the current mining operations.