Introduction

The Bushveld Igneous Complex is situated in South Africa and is host to the world’s largest reserves of Platinum Group Metals (“PGM”) (platinum, palladium, osmium, iridium, rhodium, and ruthenium) as well as other minerals such as iron, tin, chromium, titanium and vanadium. The main PGM-bearing reefs are known as Merensky Reef, the Upper Group 2 (“UG2”) and Platreef (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Block diagram of an oblique view from the southeast of the Bushveld Complex, showing the continuation of the platinum-bearing layers (Merensky Reef and UG2 Chromitite Reef) to depth. Outcrop of the Bushveld Complex on the surface is shown in dark green; its occurrence at depth in the cut-away vertical sides is shown in pale green. The layers probably continue under the entire area shown, but near the middle are deeply buried (greater than 5 km depth) by younger granitic and sedimentary rocks (called the Karoo Supergroup)
Figure 1: Block diagram of an oblique view from the southeast of the Bushveld Complex, showing the continuation of the platinum-bearing layers (Merensky Reef and UG2 Chromitite Reef) to depth. Outcrop of the Bushveld Complex on the surface is shown in dark green; its occurrence at depth in the cut-away vertical sides is shown in pale green. The layers probably continue under the entire area shown, but near the middle are deeply buried (greater than 5 km depth) by younger granitic and sedimentary rocks (called the Karoo Supergroup)

The Merensky Reef is a layer of igneous rock in the Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC) in the North West, Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa which together with an underlying layer, the Upper Group 2 Reef (UG2), contains most of the world’s known reserves of platinum group metals (PGMs) or platinum group elements (PGEs) – platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium.

The UG2 Reef, the composition of which is relatively consistent throughout the BIC, is rich in chromite, but lacks the Merensky’s gold, copper and nickel by-products, though its PGM reserves may be almost twice those of the Merensky Reef.

Bushveld Igneous Complex
Figure 2: Map of the Bushveld Complex, South Africa – showing the active mines and projects

Mining companies operating within the Bushveld Igneous Complex

Today many large mining companies operate within the Bushveld Igneous Complex, such as:

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