JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Platinum group metals (PGM) and chrome co-producer Tharisa Minerals on Friday announced the unconditional purchase of mining equipment from MCC Contracts as part of its switch to owner mining, which includes the employment of 900 MCC employees, effective from October 1.
The company, which has until now used mining contractors at its operations, believes the transition to owner mining is the next logical step in its development, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company said in a release to Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online.
Tharisa Minerals’ large scale opencast operation has an openpit life of 18 years and a further 40 years of underground mine extension.
Based on the long life of the pit, the transition to an owner mining model is viewed as a logical progression in its development.
In May 2017, the company announced its plans to purchase certain mining equipment from MCC Contracts, its existing mining contractor.
Tharisa is also optimising its fleet and insourcing drilling, which was partly subcontracted by MCC Contracts.
The company has secured the necessary funding through bridge loan facilities and original equipment manufacturer finance to fund the purchase. As part of the agreement, Tharisa Minerals will also take cession and assignment of certain leases currently entered into by MCC Contracts.
Tharisa Minerals also agreed to directly employ approximately 900 employees, previously employed by MCC at Tharisa Mine. This will bring Tharisa’s total staff complement after the transition to about 1 700.
Tharisa CEO Phoevos Pouroulis said the contractor mining model was appropriate while the Tharisa Mine was in development, since it reduced the upfront capital spend on a fleet, enabled Tharisa Minerals to understand its orebody fully and allowed the company to determine the optimal fleet requirements for mining its specific orebody.
But by taking direct control of its mining operations, Pouroulis added that Tharisa Minerals would now be better placed to control reef grades and thereby deliver improved quality ore to the processing plants, optimising the feed and recovery within the plants.
As a result of the transition and the benefits of optimisation programmes, Tharisa expects to produce 150 000 oz of PGM concentrate and 1.4-million tonnes of chrome concentrates in its 2018 financial year.