Tharisa, a producer of platinum group metals (PGMs) and chrome, has extended the life of mine (LOM) at its open pit mine in South Africa by an additional seven years to 2041.

The decision to extend the LOM follows an annual review of the Tharisa mine’s mineral resource and mineral reserve statement. The previous LOM of the open pit mine was 13 years.

According to Tharisa, there has been a 30% increase in open-pit tonnage to 94.2 million tonnes (Mt). The total open pit and underground mineral reserves stand at 113.1Mt at PGM grades of 1.09 g/t (3PGE+Au) and 18.6% in chrome grades, said the Cyprus-based company.

The open pit mine has four million ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold in mineral reserves along with 21.3Mt of chrome.

Following the review, the mineral reserve tonnage has gone up by 15.6Mt because of the final pit limit increase of the open pits.

The company said that pit design and updated MG chromitite layers made up for an increase by 26.4Mt, while mining depletion resulted in a decrease by 4.5Mt and the underground mineral reserves decreased by 6.2Mt.

Tharisa CEO Phoevos Pouroulis said: “This development further cements the reputation of the Tharisa Mine as a world-class, long-life asset that underpins our business and will continue to provide a sustainable, low-cost platform for over 50 years.

“This growth follows Tharisa’s demonstration of the consistency of its operations and proven ability to successfully move volume whilst maintaining a strong production profile, resulting in shareholder value accretion.

“The ability to extend the open pit at the Tharisa Mine also allows us to take further advantage of this unique asset and provides the platform for our growth strategy.”

Tharisa said that the revised LOM schedule will mitigate the risks resulting from the transition to underground mining as well. The company said that portal development will take place with the continuation of open pit mining.

The Tharisa mine is located in the Bushveld Complex’ South-Western Limb. Operations at the mechanised mine are expected to be extended underground by at least 40 more years.

Earlier this year, Tharisa acquired Salene Chrome, a development stage, low cost, open pit asset in Zimbabwe.