The Maseve platinum mine has good potential in terms of grades, underground developed access, completed infrastructure and a mill that operates in accordance with design criteria.
The planned changes are operationally driven to align costs with a more gradual ramp-up of production using more selective mining methods.
As a result of the anticipated restructuring process, there are a large number of employees in the service of independent contractors and staff of Maseve who could be affected. Platinum Group Metals will work closely with all its contractors, including Redpath Mining South Africa, the largest mining contractor on site, to minimise job losses while making the operation self-sustainable. It is likely that Redpath will continue to be the main contractor at the mine.
New opportunities for contractors and employees will be created as the newly planned mining method ramps up. In the long-term, the hybrid method is more labour intensive offset with better planned grade compared to bord-and-pillar mining.
The restructuring aims to reduce ongoing costs and achieve positive, sustainable cash flows as soon as possible, utilising already-established infrastructure, the mining company explained. A ‘hybrid’ mining method is under consideration, which would result in a transition from the current higher volume, mechanised bord-and-pillar mining method. Hybrid mining involves mechanised access drives using the mine's current equipment as well as conventional manual methods for stoping. Both bord-and-pillar and hybrid methods were included in the mine's feasibility study.
Face grades at the Maseve mine have generally met estimates, but the fully mechanised mining method has resulted in excess dilution and therefore lower grades to the plant. The Maseve concentrator plant has performed in excess of design criteria. Completed underground conveyor infrastructure will help reduce the trucking fleet required for mining from Block 11, the target for immediate mining.