TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – JSE- and TSX-listed Anooraq Resources has entered into a settlement and new project agreement with Ivanhoe Nickel & Platinum (Ivanplats), replacing a 2001 agreement on the Rietfontein property on the northern limb of the platinum-rich Bushveld Complex in South Africa.
The 2001 agreement had given Ivanplats the right to earn a 50% interest in the Rietfontein property by funding exploration work under “approved” technical programmes.
However, the companies entered arbitration after disagreements regarding the exploration activities carried out on the property.
The agreement announced on Tuesday settles the arbitration, and both parties have abandoned their respective claims under dispute, Anooraq reported in a statement.
The existing joint venture (JV) between the parties on the Rietfontein property has been amended to incorporate a defined area of Ivanplats' Turfspruit mineral property next door.
“We are pleased with the resolution of this dispute. The revised agreement maintains our interest in the Rietfontein mineral property but extends the possibility for further development with the addition of Turfspruit,” Anooraq CEO Philip Kotze said.
“We look forward to working with Ivanplats in taking this project to the feasibility study level.”
The companies will each maintain their respective prospecting rights but will make the rights and technical information available to the extended JV.
Anooraw has also been awarded a 6% free-carried interest in the extended JV, as long as the JV plans an openpit mining operation, incorporating the Rietfontein mineral property.
Anooraw will have no financial obligations under the extended JV terms and Ivanplats will fund the entire exploration programme to feasibility study with no financial recourse to Anooraq, the firm said.
On delivery of the feasibility study, Anooraq may elect to either retain a participating interest in the JV and fund its share of development going forward, or give up its participating interest in exchange for a 5% net smelter return royalty on the minerals extracted from the areas of the Rietfontein property that form part of the extended JV mineral properties.
Anooraq will also be entitled to appoint a member to the extended JV technical committee and all technical programmes going forward will be carried out with input from Anooraq, the firm said.
Ivanplats is a private Canadian company held by Robert Friedland's Ivanhoe Capital Corporation, major US, Canadian and European banks, pension funds and other financial institutions, according to a statement issued last year by the firm.
It is “Ivanhoe Capital's exclusive vehicle for development of mineral resources on the African continent”, in a similar way that Ivanhoe Mines is focused in the Asia Pacific region.
Anooraq operates the Bokoni platinum mine on the north-eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex, and has several other projects in South Africa.