PERTH (miningweekly.com) − ASX-listed Platinum Australia is transitioning to an owner-operator model at its Smokey Hills mine in South Africa, the company reported on Thursday.
Platinum Australia said an 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.
As the transition process is being completed with the cooperation of mining contractor JIC Mining Services, it was expected that there would be minimal disruptions to production during the transition period.
Operations at the Smokey Hills mine were affected several times last year, as JIC contract workers went on strike. In May, a contract worker was killed in a mob attack thought to include a number of ex-JIC employees whose services had been terminated in February.
The most recent round of striking ended in October, after JIC and the National Union of Mineworkers reached a wage agreement.
Platinum Australia said that mining had been undertaken by contractors since the start up of the Smokey Hills operation, and the ability to move to owner-operator mining was allowed for in the development of the project, with all major capital equipment and mobile plant owned by the mine.
In addition, the Platinum Australia management team had also been significantly enhanced and has been working on the necessary systems and procedures over the last few months to enable the change to be made.
The platinum miner planned to retain all subcontractors currently working on site, while offering all JIC employees continuity of employment under their current terms and conditions.