PGM and chrome producer Eastern Platinum, or Eastplats, has resumed full operation of its tailings retreatment project at the Crocodile River Mine in South Africa.

This follows the 18-day temporary closure of its operations in line with the country’s COVID-19 lockdown requirements.

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As a result of the change in lockdown levels effective 1 June 2020, the retreatment project, operated by Eastplats’ subsidiary Barplats Mines, has also reported the return of its workforce and will recall construction contractors in a phased return.

Based on the appropriate mobilisation, construction activities are expected to begin in relation to the tailings storage facility (TSF) wall building and the retreatment project optimisation.

Eastplats remains committed to the Government of South Africa’s direction to prevent the risk of spread of COVID-19 and therefore continues to update and monitor its risk assessments. The company has also adopted appropriate procedures, consistent with government directives, to maintain a safe workplace for its employees and the communities in which it operates.

The company notes that because the effects of COVID-19 are changing and evolving, it cannot reasonably estimate at this time all the impacts of COVID-19 or if new or unexpected changes to the lockdown levels will be imposed by the Government of South Africa.

As a result, these issues could have material adverse effects on the company’s business, liquidity and cashflows and the company will resultantly update its forecasts for the year including the timelines of the completion of the retreatment project optimisation project when there is less uncertainty.

2020 Targets

While COVID-19 could have material effects on the company’s 2020 outlook and its ability to attain targets, the company has outlined the following targets, which also remain subject to capital availability:

  • Completion of the optimisation programme for the retreatment project;
  • Maximise operating results of the retreatment project;
  • Establishment and execution of the appropriate TSF phase II capital works programme;
  • Commissioning and operation of the PGM scavenger plant;
  • Assessment and decision regarding the larger scale PGM production for the tailings resource;
  • Assessment of re-opening the Crocodile River Mine Zandfontein underground operations;
  • Ensure appropriate care and maintenance on all resource properties; and
  • Assessment and decision regarding Mareesburg project.

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The company is also actively looking at opportunities for its other assets and properties and exploring options to utilise or monetise these assets.