The latest drilling results from Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines’ Platreef project in South Africa include a huge 90 m intersection of medium grade platinum group metals.
LONDON (MINEWEB) – Readers of Mineweb may recall a recent article in which we highlighted some of the thick medium grade platinum group metals deposits currently being drilled to the north of the Bushveld Complex geological formation in South Africa, which currently is the source of over 70% of the world’s newly mined platinum output.
However, current production nearly all arises from the very narrow Merensky reef and the slightly wider, but still narrow, UG2 reef which underlies it. These reef horizons run from a few centimetres to around a little over a metre in thickness. Most of this production comes from underground mining in exceedingly difficult conditions where the narrow, shallow dipping, reef structures have proved so far to be unsuitable for significant mechanisation, meaning the operations are labour intensive, with many areas becoming uneconomic to mine at current platinum prices.
These previously unexplored, hugely thicker deposits now being drilled primarily by Canadian companies, Platinum Group Metals and Ivanhoe Mines (previously Ivanplats) would seem to have the potential to completely transform the South African platinum group metals mining industry through high tonnage mechanised exploitation.
The above article largely focused on Platinum Group Metals’ Waterberg project which, at the time appeared to have drilled the widest intersections on these new deposits, but today, Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Mines has reported pulling a 90.64m thick drill intersection assaying at around 4.5 g/tonne 4PGE (combined platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold).
The intersection also includes: a 40.79m section grading 6.88 g/tonne 4PGE at a 3g/t 3PE cut-off and additional nickel and copper mineralization grading 0.37% nickel and 0.20% copper, plus a platinum-to-palladium ratio of approximately 1 to 1, over the entire 90-metre intersection. This is a little different in make-up from Platinum Group Metals’ wide Waterberg intersections where palladium is the dominant pgm metal.
Friedland does have an extraordinary track record in spotting, and investing in, global mega deposits (think Voisey’s Bay and Oyu Tolgoi) and if his expectations are correct then this Platreef project could well rank amongst these.
Meanwhile, his Ivanhoe Mines also has two DRC base metals projects with enormous potential in the Kipushi rehabilitation (a very high grade zinc-copper project) and the Kamoa greenfield copper discovery reported as the world’s largest undeveloped high-grade copper discovery.
But, back to the South African platinum find: Friedland’s Platreef project incorporates this relatively recently discovered underground deposit of thick, PGE-nickel-copper with a mineralized sequence that is traced more than 30 kilometres along strike to which the company has given the slightly confusing name of the Flatreef given its similarity to the overall project name.
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