“Consistently achieving well beyond production and safety targets over the last 11 years” at Impala Platinum’s open pit mine near Rustenburg has led to Concor Opencast Mining renewing the contract for another year, according to the company. George Killian, Concor’s Site Manager at the mine comments: “The annualtargets are set jointly by Impala Platinum and Concor Opencast Mining. The scope of work comprises extraction from a narrow reef dipping at approximately9° to a depth of between 30 to 35 m, crushing the material to 300 mm and delivery to the stockpile. The mine draws material from the stockpile for transportation to the processing plant where platinum and other minerals are extracted.”Concor Opencast Mining’s contract also includes the rehabilitation of the mined areas, of which 26 have been completed to date. “We are following the outcrop reef comprising the Merensky reef and the UG2 reef,” Killian says. “The strike length is 14 km. Up to mid-June this year we had 2.5 million m³ of top soil, 19.6 million m³ of overburden and 921 000 m³ of reef material. The corresponding figures for the Merensky reef are 1.6 million m³ of topsoil, 9.4 million m³ of overburden and 1 million m³ of reef material.”Frank O’Toole, Impala Platinum’s mine manager for the opencast operation, says that Concor Opencast Mining “has met and exceeded our expectations in all areas – safety, production and community relations,” adding “our first priority is safety and we expect quality work. Production targets must be delivered otherwise the operation is uneconomic. In addition, community relations are challenging and we require Concor Opencast Mining to be involved with all affected stakeholders, including farmers. High standards must be maintained in those interactions to foster good relationships. Concor Opencast Mining is doing well in all these areas.”Killian attributes his team’s success to high levels of planning and discipline coupled with a strong adherence to safety standards. Among the challenges faced by the team are geological – presented by potholes, dykes and fractures in the reefs, all of which impact on productivity – and interfacing with communities in the Bafokeng area which are affected by the blasting and mining operations. Turning to safety, Killian states that the open pit operation has worked four and ahalf million hours with no fatalities. Last September, the operation was awarded platinum safety medals by Impala Platinum and received Concor Opencast Mining’sdivisional safety award for achieving zero lost time injuries for a full year. The site’s short term objective is to achieve two years without lost time injuries.“We adhere strictly to the Murray & Roberts “Stop-Think” safety programme,” Killian says. “We start each shift with a safety meeting for management andforemen, and thereafter with operators and the remainder of the workforce. Safety talks are held again at the close of each shift.” Weekly safety audits are carried out by Concor Opencast Mining while Impala undertakes 40 day safety audits. Visible felt leadership (VFL) forms part of the safety environment aimed at influencing and transforming behaviour.” Concor Opencast Mining employs 200 permanent people on site. Opencast mining is plant intensive and 35 machines are in use, ranging from a 70 t excavator to 45 t rigid trucks and 30 t ADTs. Two 9.5 hour shifts are worked five days a week and one shift is worked on Saturdays.