Northam Platinum LimitedLEADERS IN JOB CREATION & SUPPLIER DEVELOPMENT
About Northam Platinum Limited
Investing in a future for our people
Northam Platinum’s empowerment transaction, finalised in 2015, secured for the company a new lease on life, and in a transaction which was hailed as “innovative” and “imaginative” at the time, CEO Paul Dunne engineered a parallel and successful cash raising exercise resulting in a war chest of R6.6 billion.
The combinations of impeccable empowerment credentials, cash in the bank, and an energetic chief executive who is passionate about his product and its prospects, created the perfect launchpad for Northam’s expansion strategy. Only two to three years later we are already seeing some of the fruits of this initiative, with Northam having grown from a single-asset, high risk PGM producer to one with an asset base which is diversified in terms of geography, depth, risk and mining method, and with an enviable cost profile.
For many years the group’s platinum group metal output was pegged at about 280 000 ounces, emanating from the company’s single, deep-level Zondereinde mine in Limpopo province, which was limited in terms of accessible and easily mineable reef, exacerbated by the metallurgical constraints posed by the properties of certain reef types.
Employee numbers at Zondereinde were for years pegged at the ~7 000 level. Within a three-year period, after construction started on the Booysendal property on the eastern limb in 2010, the group’s output had grown by 160 000 ounces, or by 53% to 460,000 ounces. At steady state production, achieved in 2013, the Booysendal North UG2 mine was operating with a workforce of 1 915 individuals. Continued investment in expansion at Booysendal created further opportunity at this operation which now has a stable workforce of 3 780. By the end of 2017, Northam’s employee complement amounted to 12 579 showing job growth of 39% since 2010.
As the group’s expansion strategy unfolds and starts delivering, further work opportunities will start manifesting. Already the group’s growing smelting capacity has resulted in 100 additional surface jobs at the Zondereinde metallurgical complex. With a new, additional furnace up and running since early 2018 this number will grow to a total of 80, while the underground progress into the Tumela block has already accounted for an additional 350 positions at Zondereinde. This number is likely to grow by 650 as the mining area becomes established and material starts emerging from this critical addition to the Zondereinde operation, and as this operation increases its production capacity to 350 000 ounces.
Excellent progress continues at the group’s flagship brownfields expansion initiative in the eastern Bushveld complex, the new Booysendal South mine. Historically this area of the country has been underdeveloped and education levels are low. Northam’s investment in infrastructure in this area has been considerable, with 27 kilometres of permanent roads having been established, and ongoing investment in surrounding schools and community infrastructure, as part of an active and forward-looking stakeholder engagement programme in these isolated and frequently forgotten communities.
With our focus on local recruitment where possible, the South mine, and its development, is regarded by much of the local population as a beacon of opportunity. Already the South mine, during its establishment, has made 1 000 job opportunities available in 2017, while this number is likely to be doubled in 2018 as the construction and development reaches critical mass.
Economic growth is key to South Africa’s emergence from the persistent low investment ratings of the previous year. With sustained investment in infrastructure and in our business, we at Northam hope also to attract the kind of investment which we need to stimulate and expedite further job creation in South Africa.