Platreef PFS underpins ‘excellent’ economics – Ivanhoe – by Natasha Odendaal (Mining – January 8, 2015)

JOHANNESBURG ( – The prefeasibility study (PFS) of TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines’ Platreef project had demonstrated the robust nature of the latest major new underground, mechanised platinum mine, near Mokopane, in Limpopo, executive chairperson Robert Friedland said on Thursday.

Ivanhoe aimed to develop the Platreef platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, nickel and copper mine in three phases, with an initial production rate of four-million tonnes a year to establish an operating platform to support future expansions.

The latest study confirmed the “excellent” economics and technical viability of the low-cost operation, Friedland said of the mine that would eventually expand production to eight-million tonnes a year, before reaching a steady-state 12-million-tonne-a-year operation in the third phase.

The PFS – an important milestone in Ivanhoe’s planned transformation of the Platreef discovery into one of the pre-eminent South African platinum-group metals producers – covered the first phase of development, including the construction of an underground mine, concentrator and other associated infrastructure to support initial concentrate production by 2019.

Ivanhoe estimated a preproduction capital cost of $1.2-billion, including $114-million in contingencies, to deliver the first phase operation of 433 000 oz of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (3PE+Au), in addition to 19-million pounds of nickel and 12-million pounds of copper a year.

The PFS, which showed Platreef ranking at the bottom of the cash-cost curve, at an estimated $322/oz of 3PE+Au, net of by-products, indicated that the project would deliver an after-tax internal rate of return of 13% and a payback period of less than seven years.

The expected after-tax net present value was $972-million, at an 8% discount rate.

The group would kick off a feasibility study on the four-million-tonne-a-year Phase 1 and a PFS on the eight-million-tonne-a-year Phase 2 in the near future.

Ivanhoe noted that, as Phase 1 was developed and commissioned, there would be opportunities to refine the timing and scope of subsequent phases of expanded production.

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