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RETIREMENT OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Mineral Deposits Limited©2006
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April 2010

Kumba Iron Ore’s Thabazimbi Mine in the Limpopo province has not had a facility for seven years and continues its excellent performance with a second year without a single lost time injury – from the 2009 December results. The mine is not only safe, but is also productive with its chief executive awarded with the most improved operation in 2009.

It all comes down to the mine’s philosophy, says Emmy Leeka, general manager of the mine. “We say: Safety first and production second. It is not about winning awards but about making sure our employees are safe being a lifestyle through visible leadership and make it a priority by addressing all staff weekly.”

Thabazimbi mine first came into production in 1931 and was operated by Iscor. From 1933 to 1958 it was the only source of iron ore in the country. Currently it comprises five pits and has 824 employees and an additional 150 contractors.

Albert du Plessis, chief mining engineer at the mine, explains that a new pit was started in 2009 and within a year or two it will be the main source of iron ore for the mine.

“We produce an average of 2.65 Mt of hermatite ore, both fine and lump, a year through open cast mining from four production pits. The average stripping ratio is 1: 9.32 (this is the amount of waste you need to move to find the ore). The total production is sold to Acelor Mittal SA.

With the life-of-mine ending in 2014, the mine team is busy with life of mine exercises to optimize the reserves and with continuous exploration projects.

The mine was not always free of lost time injuries: in 2004 it had five injuries, in 2005 this went down to three and then from 2007 to 2009 it has had no lost time injuries.

To ensure employees safety, geotechnical risks in particular, are addressed. Sometimes this means closing sections of the pit, despite it impacting negatively on production. Leeka is adamant: safety of employees comes first.


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