Smokey Hills Produces Its First PGM Concentrate

Platinum Australia produced the first flotation concentrate at its new Smokey Hills platinum group metals (PGM) mine in on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa on January 23. Initial mining at Smokey Hills is from an open-cut that will continue to produce through June 2009. Development of a shallow underground mine has begun, with underground production scheduled to replace open-pit production over the next 12 months. The on-site concentrator has a design capacity of 720,000 mt/y, producing about 95,000 oz/y of 4E PGM (platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold). Concentrate is being delivered to Impala Refining Services under a life-of-mine offtake agreement.

At the current rand/dollar exchange rate of 10:1, average on-site production costs at Smokey Hills are estimated to be less than $200/oz 4E PGM, with a total cost including smelting and refining charges of approximately $300/oz 4E PGM. Resources at the project are estimated at 5.5 million mt, grading 5.6 g/mt 4E PGM.

As featured in Womp 2009 Vol 02 -