Perth, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 12 March, 2008 – Australian-based Platinum Australia Limited (PLA) – listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and the London AIM – has moved to make its Smokey Hills platinum mine, on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa totally independent of state-owned power utility Eskom’s national power grid if necessary.
In a release to the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday, PLA revealed that an order had been placed for five diesel generators with a capacity of 8,000 KVA for the mine. The units are due for delivery in June 2008, and will provide the project with sufficient capacity to run its entire mining and processing operations independently when required to do so.
The capital cost of the generators and associated equipment will be just under US$2 million (more than R15 million), or just 4% of the capital cost of the project.
“This expenditure is fully justified by the certainty of power supply, and therefore continuity of operations, that it provides,” said PLA managing director John Lewins. “While we have every expectation that Eskom will meet its contractual commitments to supply grid power to our Smokey Hills platinum mine – both during construction and in operations – we are very aware of the ongoing problems being faced by the power utility. We have therefore taken the step of ordering sufficient stand-alone generating capacity to allow the operation to be independent of power from the national grid when necessary,” he added.
“This will guarantee that the project can commission on time, even in the event of delays in connecting to the grid,” Lewins explained, “and will also allow the operation to continue at full capacity in the event of a partial, or even total, power failure from the grid.”
Even in the event of having to supply 100% of power requirements from the diesel generators in the event of a complete failure of grid power, Lewins calculates that cost of production at Smokey Hills would be just over US$300 (about R2 300) per oz of 4E PGM – still one of the lowest in the industry.
Operations at Smokey Hills will commence initially as an open cut, progressing to a shallow underground mine during the first year of operations. The treatment of ore through the on-site treatment plant is scheduled to commence in July 2008.
The plant has a design capacity of 720 000 tonnes per annum and will produce approximately 95 000 oz of 4E PGM in a flotation concentrate. This concentrate will be delivered to Impala Refining Services under a life-of-mine off-take agreement.