In Anglo American Platinum’s 2018 results, the company revealed how its latest technology and innovation efforts were coming along.
Amplats, in 2018, recorded earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of ZAR14.5 billion ($1.03 billion), compared with ZAR11.99 billion a year earlier, as total platinum group metal production rose 4% to 5.19 Moz.
In the company’s strategic overview of the business – under a section titled: “Extracting the full potential from our operations through our people and innovation” – the company talked up several processes it was pursuing to “drive improvement in operational performance from current levels”. This was through “greater stabilisation and process optimisation, towards best in class in the industry, known as P100”.
Amplats said: “The next step is to operate our assets and equipment at levels beyond what is currently thought to be possible in the industry, known as P101.”
Examples of areas of P101 improvement include increasing the rope shovel performance at its massive Mogalakwena PGM mine (pictured) in South Africa, from 26 Mt/y to over 45 Mt/y, increasing throughput at the concentrators by over 10%, boosting operating time of concentrators to over 94%, increasing recoveries of concentrators to over 83% and increasing the operating factor at processing facilities (defined as availability multiplied by utilisation).
“Beyond P101, a number of step-change technologies are being developed and deployed, including coarse particle flotation, which can reduce energy intensity by over 30%; advanced fragmentation and shock-break technology at concentrators, which has the potential to also reduce energy intensity by 30%; and fine recovery of chrome and PGMs, in conjunction with bulk sorting, which can lead to a 10% increase in feed grade and recoveries,” Amplats said.
Shock-break technology at concentrators has the potential to eliminate the use of SAG mills, according to Amplats. The company is piloting this technology after successful tests of Mogalakwena pebbles indicated a more than 50% saving in power consumption.
Pilot plant trials, “leveraging Element 6 wear resistant tools”, started in April 2018, according to Amplats.
To “unlock” this additional value through P101 and a number of FutureSmart Mining™ technologies and digitalisation, additional investment in a number of fast payback, value enhancing projects is required, Amplats said. “This is expected to deliver EBITDA margin uplift of 5-8% on a mine-to-market basis, within a three- five-year-time horizon, before the benefit of any expansion projects using 2018 prices and exchange rates”.
Capital guidance, including for these fast-payback and P101 investment projects will be in the region of ZAR1.5–1.8 billion in 2019, and around ZAR2 billion for each of 2020 and 2021.