Canada's Platinum Group seeks SA assets

Canada’s Platinum Group Metals is scouting for more mining rights in South Africa, the world’s top platinum producer, and is seeking permits to start construction at its existing projects in the country.

“We have been very actively looking in South Africa. We have applied for a lot of new areas and are planning to make further investments in the country,” R Michael Jones, president and chief executive of the company, told Reuters on Thursday.

“In platinum, if you are not in South Africa, you are not in the game,” he said in an interview.

South Africa accounts for three-fourths of the world’s platinum production.

“The new Minerals Act means that in a lot of areas, you have gone from literally thousands of private mineral rights holders to a single mineral rights holder, which is the state,” he said.

The practical aspect of being able to make a deal in South Africa and explore had changed dramatically with the Act, Jones said, adding the country was expected to see growing exploration investment and discoveries in the next five years.

The company is now working on “Project one” of the Western Bushveld Joint Venture, in which Platinum Group Metals and Anglo Platinum, the world’s top platinum producer, have 37% each, while South Africa’s Wesizwe Platinum owns the remaining stake.

Platinum Group aims to complete a bankable feasibility study by the end of the current year and expects mining permits from the government the next year, with construction of the mine starting soon after the approval.

Production at the mine was likely to start in 2010 and was expected to attain the full capacity of 250 000 ounces a year of platinum group metals by 2012.—Reuters

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