Ivanhoe’s Platreef Shaft 1 Reaches Depth of 750 m
Ivanhoe Mines indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats, and is directing all mine development work. The South African beneficiaries of the approved broad-based black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the project. The remaining 10% is owned by a Japanese consortium of Itochu Corp.; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp.; and Japan Gas Corp.
The first of Platreef’s planned fleet of mobile underground mining equipment, a 5.5-metric ton (mt) load-haul-dump machine (LHD), has arrived on site and will be used for off-shaft station development on the 750-m, 850-m, and 950-m levels. People from Platreef’s surrounding host communities are being trained as operators of the LHD.
The LHD is the first piece of mechanized, mobile equipment to be used underground on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex. As underground development progresses, significantly larger mining equipment, including 14- and 17- mt LHDs and 50-mt haul trucks, will be added to the equipment fleet.
Sinking of Shaft 1 will resume after the 750-m station is complete. The shaft is expected to intersect the upper contact of the Flatreef deposit at an approximate shaft depth of 783 m. As shaft sinking advances, two additional shaft stations will be developed at mine-working depths of 850 m and 950 m below surface. The shaft is expected to reach its projected final depth of 980 m below surface in 2019.
Current Platreef development is based on a July 2017 definitive feasibility study (DFS) of the first phase of production at an initial mining rate of 4 million mt/y. The DFS estimates initial average annual production of 476,000 ounces (oz) of combined platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold, plus 21 million lb of nickel and 13 million lb of copper.
Work on Platreef’s Shaft 2 has begun approximately 100 m northeast of Shaft 1. Shaft 2 will have an internal diameter of 10 m and will be sunk to a planned depth of more than 1,104 m below surface. It will be equipped with two 40-mt rock-hoisting skips, with capacity to hoist a total of 6 million mt/y of ore, the single largest hoisting capacity at any mine in Africa.
The headgear for Shaft 2’s permanent hoisting facility was designed by South Africa- based Murray & Roberts Cementation. Ivanhoe plans to develop the Platreef mine in three phases to achieve 1) an initial mining rate of 4 million mt/y to establish an operating platform to support future expansions; 2) a doubling of production to 8 million mt/y; and 3) expansion to a final steady-state 12 million mt/y.