In an article from mining weekly, Ilan Solomons spoke with midtier mining consultancy Ukwazi Group director Hugo Tukker, who said that PGM producers who formerly opted for conventional mining methods that created thousands of jobs in South Africa are now looking to mechanize their mines.
As quoted in the publication:
He points out that, like the gold mining industry in South Africa, PGM producers use conventional stoping methods, such as hand-held drilling, which has created thousands of jobs for rock drill operators.
However, Tukker adds that, owing to the recent wage agreements in the sector, the business model most of the conventional mines employ is not economically viable anymore, which means that most of the remaining Merensky and upper group two (UG2) resources are marginal and unfeasible to mine for the PGM operators using current mining methods.
Another consideration is that productivity on PGM mines has declined significantly over the last 20 years.