Drilling at Ivanhoes' Platreef project in South Africa

South AfricaIvanhoe Mines Platreef project, which will produce platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, nickel and copper from an underground mine, has successfully started the development of it first mine shaft.

This is despite having had to suspend construction activity on site for six-months, in May 2014, pending finalisation of the mining right, which was awarded in November last year.

The project completed the first successful blasts in the Shaft 1 box cut and the pollution control dam in February 2015.  South Africa-based Aveng Mining, the shaft-sinking contractor, is responsible for the excavation of the box-cut access for the shaft collar and vent plenum and will be the sinking contractor for Shaft 1.

Construction work on the concrete surface collar for Shaft 1 at Platreef is advancing well and the refurbished stage and hoist winding equipment will be installed once the foundations are complete.

Shaft 1 will have an internal diameter of 7.25 m, with an annual planned hoisting capacity of 2.5 million tonnes. It is projected to reach a total depth of 975 metres in 2018.

Shaft 1, including some initial lateral, underground development work, is expected to be fully funded from dedicated funds remaining in Ivanhoe’s treasury from the $280-million received in 2011 for the sale of an 8% interest in the Platreef project to the ITOCHU-led Japanese consortium.

Drilling at Ivanhoes' Platreef project in South Africa
Drilling at Ivanhoes’ Platreef project in South Africa

Other work on site to be completed includes the terrace for the 5 MVA temporary power supply, pollution-control dam, offices and training facilities.

This work follows the completion of the prefeasibility study (PFS) completed in January.

The PFS estimates planned initial average annual production rate of 433,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (3PE+Au), plus 19-million lbs of nickel and 12 million lbs of copper per year, at an estimated $322/oz of 3PE+Au, net of by-products.

The feasibility study for the first phase of development is expected to commence in Q2 2015.

Development

The project, worth a total of R13.5-billion, will be developed in three phases.

The first phase in developing  the large, mechanised, underground mine will entail establishing an initial 4 Mtpa concentrator and the associated infrastructure as an operating platform to support initial concentrate production by 2019. This will be followed by a doubling of production to 8 Mtpa; and then a third expansion phase to a steady-state 12 Mtpa.

At a projected production rate of 12 Mtpa, Ivanhoe Mines Platreef project would be among the largest platinum-group metals mines in the world.

Meanwhile, Shaft 2 development works are expected to also begin this year, subject to necessary approvals and funding. South Africa-based Murray & Roberts Cementation will undertake the design and engineering of Shaft 2, the 10 m diameter main production shaft that will be capable of hoisting six million 6 Mtpa.

The contract for the early engineering works for the winding equipment has been awarded to South Africa-based FLSmidth.

Ownership

Ivanhoe Mines Platreef project, located near Mokopane in Limpopo, is 64%-owned by Ivanhoe through its subsidiary, Ivanplats and 10%-owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation; ITC Platinum, an ITOCHU affiliate; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation; and Japan Gas Corporation.

Geology

The Platreef project hosts an underground deposit of thick, platinum-group metals, nickel, copper and gold mineralisation in the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex, about 280 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg.

On the Northern Limb, such mineralisation primarily is hosted within the Platreef, a mineralised sequence that is traced more than 30 kilometres along strike.

Ivanhoe’s Platreef project, within the southern sector of the Platreef, is comprised of three contiguous properties: Turfspruit, Macalacaskop and Rietfontein. The northernmost property, Turfspruit, is contiguous with, and along strike from, Anglo Platinum’s Mogalakwena group of properties and mining operations.

Since 2007, Ivanhoe has focused its exploration activities on defining and advancing the down-dip extension of its original Platreef discovery, now known as the Flatreef deposit, which is viewed as being amenable to highly mechanized, underground mining methods. The Flatreef area lies entirely on the Turfspruit and Macalacaskop properties.

The Flatreef deposit is characterized by its very large vertical thicknesses of high-grade mineralization and a platinum-to-palladium ratio of about 1:1, which is significantly higher than other recent PGM discoveries on the Bushveld’s Northern Limb.

Flatreef’s Indicated Mineral Resources of 214 Mt contain an estimated 28.5 Moz of platinum, palladium, gold and rhodium, 1.6-billion lbs of nickel and 0.8-billion lbs of copper.

Job creation

The planned Platreef mine is projected to require a workforce of about 2 200 people within four years of the start of production. A total of 70% of the 700 permanent and contract workers currently employed by the company are from the local area.

Safety

The Platreef project recently achieved more than 3 800 000 lost time injury-free man-hours.

Ivanhoe is committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the highest standards of occupational health, safety, environment and welfare management. Through teamwork, and in partnership with employees, consultants and contractors, Ivanhoe will endeavour to develop and sustain a culture of preventing harm to employees, contractors, communities and other stakeholders, and the environment, through the implementation of an effective health, safety and environmental management system and best practices.

Other Southern African projects

Besides Platfreef, Ivanhoe Mines other principal development projects in Southern Africa include the Kamoa copper discovery, in a previously unknown extension of the Central African Copperbelt in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the historic, high-grade Kipushi zinc-copper mine, also on the Copperbelt in the DRC, which is currently being drilled and upgraded, following a care-and-maintenance program conducted between 1993 and 2011.

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