Canadian company Ivanplats has filed a mining right application for a major project in South Africa’s Limpopo province which could see the first serious foreign direct investment in the country’s platinum sector in a number of years.
The application, filed with South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources, is for Ivanplats’ Platreef project, a massive discovery of platinum-group metals, nickel, copper and gold on the northern limb of the country’s Bushveld Complex.
Ivanplats executive chairman Robert Friedland told delegates at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town in February that the Platreef deposit was even bigger than previously thought and represented “enormous good news” for the future of platinum mining in South Africa.
In a statement on Monday, Friedland said the rights application was the culmination “of years of successful exploration and engineering to define high-grade resources that we believe are amenable to safe, efficient, large-scale, mechanized underground mining methods.
“We’re looking forward to working with all our stakeholders to advance the Platreef project to production, to create much-needed jobs and to contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of our host communities, the surrounding Limpopo region and South Africa as a whole.”
Friedland also announced that, if the application was approved, Ivanplats would finance the acquisition of a 26% stake in Platreef by a black economic empowerment company representing local communities.
A Japanese consortium comprising Itochu Corporation, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation and JGC Corporation would also acquire a 10% stake in Platreef for US$290-million, payable in two tranches, which would help fund the project’s ongoing pre-development work.
This work, the company said on Monday, was supported by “what is believed to be one of the most extensive environmental and socio-economic study programmes in South Africa’s mining history. Approximately three years have been spent collecting the data necessary to plan an environmentally sound and socially responsible mining project.”
Ivanplats had already set up community liaison offices, held regular community engagement forums, and begun two local economic development projects in the vicinity of Platreef.
Platreef “would bring many additional high-value jobs, training and other opportunities for those who live in local communities and elsewhere in the region,” the company said. Work on skills training and sustainable local economic development projects was under way, and specific initiatives would be announced in due course.
The Canadian company, which has been exploring in Africa since 1994, listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in October 2012. “We are now thinking of listing in South Africa as our secondary listing,” Friedland told the African Mining Indaba in February.
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