PERTH (miningweekly.com) - South Africa-focused Platinum Australia has reported an improvement in all areas of production at its Smokey Hills platinum mine since it switched from a contractor to owner-operator model at the start of this year.
In January, Platinum Australia reported that the owner-operator model would place it in a stronger position to meet its production targets and would achieve cost savings of 10% to 15% over the next three months.
The miner said on Monday that during February and the first half of March, the transfer of employees from the mining contractor to the Platinum Australia subsidiary was occurring, with some disruption in operations.
Despite this, however, production was still above the levels achieved by the contractor during the first half of January, with no increase in mining dilution.
A total of 852 employees have elected to transfer to Platinum Australia, with the last month seeing some 30 terminations. Nine new employees have been recruited, all at the supervisory management levels.
MD John Lewins said on Monday that one of the main areas which had proved to be challenging has been in tramming ore from underground to the plant, owing to poor equipment availability resulting from inadequate maintenance by the contractor during the previous months.
He noted that a programme of work to correct this was initiated in January, and a significant improvement was already evident with average tons trammed a day over the last two weeks up by some 60%, from that achieved by the contractor in the first half of January.
Lewins noted that underground production over the last week had also exceeded production ramp-up budget levels, with the company expecting production performance to continue to improve over the next quarters as the systems and procedures covering key areas such as training, management, personnel, planning and maintenance became fully established.