The Smokey Hills
processing plant during
commissioning
 
Perth, Australia — MININGREVIEW.COM — 19 March 2009 – Platinum Australia Limited (PLA) – a mining exploration company specialising in platinum group elements, and with a portfolio of advanced PGM projects in South Africa and Australia – has started production at its Smokey Hills platinum mine in South Africa.

In an update on developments released here, the company confirmed that the ramp-up to full production was underway, and that shipment of concentrates to the Impala Platinum smelter had commenced.

PLA managing director John Lewins said: “The commissioning of the plant at our Smokey Hills platinum mine has progressed to the point where we are now moving to treat our higher grade stockpiles, some of which run up to plus 8 g/t 4E PGM, and focusing on ramping up to full production. Importantly, as we have recently commenced shipping concentrates, we expect to receive our first payment at the end of this month, confirming our entry into the ranks of platinum producers,” he added.

“Operations in the open pit mine are due to be completed by June of this year and the development of the underground mine continues to progress on schedule,” Lewins continued. “The first adit is now developed to more than 100m below surface, and development of the second of the total of six adits to be developed has also commenced. These adits are developed on reef, so we are already producing ore from the underground operations. In addition, during March development of the first raise was commenced which should see production from stopes commence in the September quarter of this year,” he said.

Lewins went on to say that the recent improvement in the platinum price to over US$1 000/oz, combined with the continued stability of the Rand to US Dollar exchange rate at approximately 10 to 1, had also been very positive for the operation.

Platinum Australia holds a direct interest of 69.75% in Smokey Hills, with the balance held by various black economic-empowerment entities.