The traditional deep-level mines in SA that absorb hundreds of thousands of jobs are no longer a viable option in platinum and in gold are the end of an era, industry chief executives say. Speaking at the Joburg Indaba mining conference, Impala Platinum CEO Nico Muller said the move to shallower, less labour-intensive, safer and more cost-efficient mines means there is unlikely to be investment in new shafts going kilometres deep into the earth after the company has completed its two new deep-level mines in the next few years. Asked at the conference whether Implats would build more shafts that are 2km deep or more, costing up to R20bn over a decade or more, and whether investors would support such an investment, Muller said it was not even up for debate in the company.

The benefits of opencast, mechanised mines simply overshadow deep-level platinum mines, when it comes to safety and the forecasts of cost escalation, particularly for labour, which rises above inflation, and th...

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