Flatreef Platreef

TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines’ sunsidiary, Ivanplats, has released the findings of the independent Platreef Integrated Development Plan 2020 for its tier one Platreef palladium, platinum, rhodium, nickel, copper and gold project in South Africa.

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The Platreef Integrated Development Plan 2020 (Platreef IDP20) consists of an updated feasibility study (Platreef 2020 FS) and a preliminary economic assessment (Platreef 2020 PEA).

The Platreef 2020 FS builds on the excellent results of the FS announced in July 2017 and is based on an unchanged mineral reserve, project designs for mining, and plant and infrastructure as in the Platreef 2017 FS; except with an increased production rate from 4 Mtpa to 4.4 Mtpa, in two modules of 2.2 Mtpa.

The 2020 FS includes an updated production schedule based on the current project status, costs and economic assumptions.The schedule for the 2020 FS is driven by the sinking of the project’s second, larger shaft (Shaft 2), where early works have commenced. The 2020 FS envisions Shaft 2 equipped for hoisting in 2025, allowing for first concentrate production in the latter half of the year. The initial capital cost for the Platreef 2020 FS is estimated at US$1.4 billion.

The Platreef IDP20 also includes the Platreef 2020 PEA, which is an alternate, phased development plan that fast-tracks Platreef into production.

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The plan uses the project’s first shaft (Shaft 1) for initial hoisting and mine development, with 825 000 tpa of total rock hoisting capacity, of which 125 000 t is allocated for development rock. The alternate plan envisions building an initial concentrator with a capacity of 770 000 tpa, and could produce first concentrate in mid-2024.

The recently-completed sinking of Shaft 1 has created the opportunity to access early, high-grade tonnes in this scenario. While the 700 000 tpa initial mine is being operated using Shaft 1, there would be opportunities to refine the timing of subsequent phases of expanded production, which is driven by the sinking of Shaft 2. Once completed, two 2.2 Mtpa concentrator modules would be commissioned, and the initial concentrator would be ramped up to its full capacity of 770 000 tpa; increasing the steady-state production to 5.2 Mtpa.

The initial capital cost for 700 000 tpa under the Platreef 2020 PEA is estimated at US$390 million – substantially lower than the Platreef 2020 FS that requires Shaft 2 for first production.

Detailed engineering has commenced on the mine design, 770 000 tpa concentrator and associated infrastructure for the phased development plan, which will be incorporated into an updated feasibility study in 2021.

The Shaft 1 changeover will take place simultaneously in preparation for permanent hoisting by early 2022. The budget for 2021 is US$59 million, which includes US$10 million for commencement of the construction of the headframe to the collar of Shaft 2.

Just the start of something big

The Platreef IDP20 reflects the first phase of development for the mine. It is designed to establish an operating platform to support potential future expansions to 12 Mtpa and beyond, as demonstrated in previous studies, which would position the mine among the largest platinum-group metals producing mines in the world, producing in excess of 1.1 Moz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold per year.

“The feasibility study demonstrates once again the incredible efficiency that can be achieved at Platreef when Shaft 2, one of the largest shafts in Africa, is completed. It confirms without a shadow of a doubt, that not only is Platreef one of the largest, richest precious metals deposits on the planet, but it also will be one of the lowest-cost operations and feature exceptional returns on capital,” says Ivanhoe Mines co-chairman Robert Friedland.

“Now that Shaft 1 is complete, the phased development plan shows that there is an exciting alternate path to develop this great deposit, with much lower upfront capital requirements, to establish a strategic production foothold on the emerging Northern Limb of South Africa’s prolific Bushveld Complex. In turn, this can be leveraged to unlock Platreef’s tier one, long-life mineral potential, Fiedland adds.