Local residents near the Platreef project in Limpopo had to be dispersed by the South African Police Service using rubber bullets. It is alleged that they blocked the road with rocks and tyres in a protest against the construction of a $1.6 billion platinum mine.
Ivanhoe Mines are confident that the vast majority of local residents support the Platreef Project and that only a handful of protesters are agitating. They say that a small group of protestors encouraged local residents to gather at an access road leading to the mine, falsely saying that the company was looking for construction workers to start the project.
Reports of rubber bullets were used by the police to disperse the crowd estimated to be from 100 to 400 people. Ivanhoe Mines say they had no involvement in the action whatsoever.
Ivanhoe Mines Response:
The company stated that it “will not be held hostage by a small group of self-serving agitators whose agenda and conduct is contrary to the majority interests of the area communities that will benefit from the jobs and socio-economic development that will flow from the development of a major new underground, mechanized platinum mine.”
Background to the Platreef Project
Ivanhoe Mines is developing the Platreef Project, located approximately 280 kilometres northeast of Johannesburg, in South Africa’s Limpopo province.
The mining right for the project was granted by the Department of Mineral Resources in May 2014 following successful BBBEE deal giving 26% of the mine to 20 local communities. Upon execution of the mining right, the host communities would receive a yearly fixed contribution of R11-million while the mine was being developed. Over 150,000 local residents would benefit from the deal.
Ivanhoe Mines own 64% of the mine with 10% belonging to a Japanese consortium.
Technical information on Platreef
The project’s resources consist of platinum-group metals (PGMs). The life span of the mine is estimated to be 36 years and will produce 785,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold annually. Operations are planned for 2020 and the mine is projected to become the lowest-cost producer of PGMs in Africa.
A three-phase production plan is envisaged to develop the mine, producing four million tonnes per annum by 2020. In the second phase, by 2024, the plant capacity would be ramped up to eight Mtpa and then to 12 Mtpa in the last phase four years later.