Ivanhoe PEA provides glimpse of SA’s potential platinum future – by Jeff Candy (Mineweb.com – March 28, 2014)

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The miner is planning to have an 8 million t/y platinum operation up by 2024, at costs of under $500 an ounce excluding by-product credits.

GRONINGEN (MINEWEB) – Ivanhoe Mines’ preliminary economic assessment of its Platreef PGM project in South Africa is some welcome good news for a sector that has had more than its fair share of bad.

As the world’s three largest platinum miners continue to bleed in the wake of a strike that has cost them and their workers billions of rands, Ivanhoe’s PEA, released yesterday, confirms the size and scope of a project that not only has the benefit of significant base metal credits, but also ore veins that are wide enough to accommodate mechanised mining.

Driving home the difference between Platreef and its deep, thin-veined peers, CEO, Robert Friedland commented, “We’re looking forward to working with all of our stakeholders to advance the Platreef Project to production, to create valued and skilled jobs and to significantly contribute to the socio-economic development of the people of area communities who will have a voice in decision making and a direct share in our success through our responsively structured, broad-based, black economic empowerment partner.”

According to the miner, the plan is to develop a large, mechanised, underground mine in three initial phases.

The first phase is a four million tonne per year operation that would include the construction of a concentrator and other associated infrastructure in order to establish an operating platform by 2020.

The second phase, and the base case for many of the group’s assumptions would see plant capacity ramp up to 8 Mtpa by 2024, while “Phase 3 envisages a further ramp-up to a steady-state plant capacity of 12 Mtpa by 2028,” the group says.
Under the base case, the group is looking to produce 785,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold.

Adding, “At an expanded operating scenario of 12 million tonnes per year, the annual production target would be 1.1 million ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (3PE+Au).”

From a cost perspective, the high concentration of base metals, the highest among Africa’s PGM producers according to Ivanhoe, should allow the mine to produce its mix of three platinum elements and gold at an estimated cost of US$341 per ounce, net of by-products. A cost line that would see it rank at the bottom of the industry cost curve.

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