Touching the “Flatreef” What a privilege

I need to dedicate some time and writing space this month to talking about my recent site visit to Ivanplats’ Platreef project – situated on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex.

It was not my first time seeing the project, but this particular trip was memorable for me and offered an incredible opportunity which I will hold dear to my heart. I was given the opportunity to travel down the vertical shaft, now in the latter stages of development, and touch the Flatreef (780 m below surface) for myself. As the first journalist to do so, this is a notch on my belt of special career memories.

And I must give a shout out to Ivanplats’ Vice President & Project Director Gerick Mouton, his team and the company’s shaft sinking contractor Aveng Shafts & Underground for hosting me on site and underground.

So why, you may ask, is this project so special? Most of our readers probably already know, and you can read all about the project in the front pages of the magazine, but, in a nutshell, let me summarise why Platreef is unique within the PGM sector.

The high-grade Flatreef ore body is a “trove” of platinum group metals: nickel, copper and gold. It has an estimated thickness of 26 m – which is massive compared to the typical 1 m (or less) Merensky reef across the Western Limb. The ore body is also flatlying which lends itself to full-scale, mechanised mining that is expected to drive down the project’s operating costs and enhance profits – a model that could transform the future of the PGM sector in South Africa.

This is enough to spark global interest from an investment market that may be questioning the need to develop new, largescale greenfield PGM mines in an era where most of South Africa’s high-cost platinum mines are under significant financial pressure as a result of low prices and declining demand for the commodities.

Some observers predict that 40 to 50% of current PGM supply ounces will be lost in coming years as their uneconomic status escalates. “I believe high-quality, low-cost mines, situated in the Eastern and Northern limbs of the Bushveld Complex, will supplement lost production from this production drop in coming year, taking the future of PGM mining in an entirely new direction,” says Mouton.

So yes, Platreef is a ‘diamond in the PGM rough’ and one to keep a close eye on. While there is so much more to this project than the few lines I’ve written about it here, I hope it’s enough to whet your appetite in reading about the project further. Their initiatives with regard to community upliftment is also truly amazing. Trust me, I know!

So… I can’t wait to keep you posted on the amazing achievements this project will celebrate as it moves forward. I’m on the frontline so this magazine should be your first choice in staying up to speed with the best mining news out there.