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Mine Profile: Sishen

Ensuring operational excellence at our largest and most valuable mines is a key part of our ongoing strategy at Anglo American.

This month, as part of our mine profile series, we shine the spotlight on Sishen – one of our South African iron ore mines. In the article, we take a look at how it performed in 2014 and the implementation of our new Operating Model at the site, which you can learn more about in our Annual Report 2014.

Where is it?

The Sishen mine is a large open pit iron ore mine, 14km in length, located in central South Africa in the Northern Cape, producing a leading quality lump ore and a premium fine ore.

What is the annual output?

In 2014, Sishen produced 35.5 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore, an increase of 15% from the previous year (2013: 30.9 Mt), with total tonnes mined rising to 229.9 Mt, which is the equivalent weight of 35 Great Pyramids of Giza. Of this amount, 187.2 Mt was waste (2013: 167.8 Mt). Although the operation was operating below the waste target set at the start of 2014, waste-removal run rates are now meeting targets. 

What operational improvements have been made recently?

The Anglo American Operating Model was rolled out at the Sishen North mine in August 2014.

CEO of Kumba Iron Ore, Norman Mbazima explains: “The three basic principles underpinning the Operating Model are stability in operations that deliver predictable outcomes, experience lower operating costs and fewer capital expenditure requirements; lower variation in operational performance to increase capability and efficiency; and a clear understanding by team members of their own work, and how their team works. The model was implemented at the internal waste and ore mining in the North mine and is already yielding results including improving scheduled work, now over 70% compared to 20% on commencement; a 50% reduction in waiting time on shovels, and 23% efficiency improvements in total tonnes handled since June 2014.”

Other operational improvements at Sishen include:

  • The Sishen Western Expansion Project (SWEP), an ongoing project to redesign and expand the mine.
  • Two new waste dumps constructed to reduce the distance trucks are required to travel to move waste.
  • A five-year fleet and associated infrastructure plan, which includes an on-site maintenance facility to safely and efficiently service the mine’s haul trucks. This, along with increasing the fleet of trucks, is set to increase capacity for moving ore as the mine ramps up. 

What about the local community?

To facilitate the expansion of Sishen mine to the west, the first phase of the Dingleton relocation project saw 71 homes in Dingleton North relocated to the nearby town of Kathu.

Residents have been supported with training and educational initiatives, as well as small enterprise development programmes. They also have easier access to potential sources of employment, as well as Sishen and other surrounding mines.

Phase 2, the relocation of the 428 remaining houses, buildings and businesses, has commenced and is progressing well. 

Currently, some 3,400 people remain in the town. To accommodate them, more than 500 high-quality new homes are being built in Kathu. Also included in the relocation are several businesses, education and medical facilities, churches and municipal infrastructure.

The resettlement follows an extensive consultation process with the community and other stakeholders which started in March 2012. The consultation was conducted in accordance with Anglo American’s Social Way and the International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards. 

Kumba Iron Ore has committed to paying all capital gains tax associated with those properties, as well as increases in rates, taxes and water tariffs, for the next 20 years. The resettlement plan also includes various training, education and enterprise development programmes.

What does the future hold for Sishen?

Following the success of the Operating Model pilot at Sishen North, further operation roll outs have taken place across many of our sites during 2015, including Sishen pre-strip and the Kolomela plant. All other areas will follow.

You can find out more about our iron ore operations on the Kumba Iron Ore website.

Real Mining. Real People. Real Difference.