Platinum operations around the South African mining hub of Rustenburg face water restrictions stemming from drought conditions, officials at the country’s Department of Water Affairs have announced. Last month the North West Province declared a drought in South Africa’s platinum belt, which accounts for 75% of the precious metal’s global supplies.
The world's top three platinum producers, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin plc all have are operations, though Amplats mines have already been under a stoppage owing to a week-long strike.
Production, however, has yet to be seriously affected, according to company officials. "We have been able to reduce our water off-take to assist the local municipality without impacting mining operations to any significant extent," said Johan Theron, an Implats spokesman.
Natascha Viljoen, executive vice president of process and sustainability at Lonmin, on the other hand, had a different take. "Lonmin has been impacted by current drought conditions and we have plans in place to manage water usage as stringently as possible," she told Reuters earlier this week.
South African mining ministry officials said the outcome will be far from clear in an area that is at once one of the most arid and mineral-heavy in all sub-Saharan Africa. “The platinum mines will be affected though I'm not aware to what extent they will be affected," spokesman Themba Khumalo said on Friday.