TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines’ Executive Chairman Robert Friedland and Managing Director Patricia Makhesha today announced that the company’s South African subsidiary, Ivanplats, is the top-ranked platinum-sector mining company in compliance with the country’s black empowerment laws.

The announcement was made to delegates at the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba.

Ivanplats has achieved Level 3 status in its first verification assessment on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) scorecard.

Friedland and Makhesha also announced that the company now employs more than 700 permanent and contract workers after it received approval from the South African government in November last year to build a new, R13.5 billion platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, nickel and copper underground mine just outside Mokopane, in Limpopo province.

“Ivanhoe Mines previously has committed itself to developing its Platreef project in full compliance with local South African laws and we want to meet the expectations of local communities and government as we proceed to build a world-class, new platinum mine. The result of Ivanplats’ first verification assessment is proof that, indeed, Ivanplats is living up to those expectations.”

Project update
The Platreef project has achieved over 3.7 million Lost Time Injury Free (LTIF) man-hours.

The resource expansion drilling is nearing completion with the final drill hole in progress. With the completion of this phase of exploration, Ivanhoe should have sufficient indicated resources to support the phase 2 expansion pre-feasibility study which is planned to start in Q2, 2015.

Positive findings of a recent, independent pre-feasibility study of the planned initial 4 Mtpa mine and concentrator in the first phase of development of the Platreef mine. Ivanhoe Mines plans to develop the mine in three phases – the initial annual rate of 4 Mtpa to establish an operating platform to support future expansions; 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, Platreef would be among the largest platinum-group metals mines in the world. The feasibility study for the first phase development also will commence in Q2, 2015.

Construction continues on the Shaft 1 box cut and terrace works. The box cut has been excavated to a depth of 7.5 metres and blast-hole drilling has commenced for the first blast. Once the final box-cut depth of 12.5 metres has been established, the construction of the shaft collar infrastructure will commence. The stage and hoist winding equipment are fully refurbished and ready for installation once the foundations have been cast. Fabrication on the headgear has commenced. Earthworks continue on the 5MVA sub-station terrace and the pollution control dam.

Ivanhoe Mines and its Japanese partners already have invested approximately US$260 million in the Platreef project which has dedicated working capital of more than US$100 million (R1.1 billion) that is expected to cover currently planned development work. The funds were provided by an investment of US$280 million in 2011 by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation; Japan Gas Corporation and ITC Platinum Development Ltd., an ITOCHU affiliate. The consortium holds a 10% interest in the project, the BEE partner holds 26% and Ivanhoe Mines holds the remaining 64%.