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Crocodile River mine restart project, South Africa – update

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12th May 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Crocodile River mine (CRM) restart project.

Location
South Africa’s North West province.

Project Owner/s
Eastern Platinum (Eastplats).

Project Description
Eastplats envisages restarting mining operations at its flagship platinum group metals (PGMs) and chrome operations at the CRM that incorporates the Zandfontein, Crocette and Kareespruit deposits.

The CRM has reserves of 1.7-million ounces with a proven grade of 4.75 g/t PGMs and a probable grade of 3.48 g/t.

The company plans to restart mining using a hybrid method to a peak production rate of about 1.02-million tonnes a year. Previous mining methods failed because of inefficient stoping methods and infrastructure that was costly to operate.

The new hybrid method involves mechanised on-reef development and conventional breast stoping; hydropower will replace pneumatic power underground to improve the power of the drills, reduce noise and heat, and extend penetration on levels 6 to 12.

Smaller development ends – including raises, winzes, advance strike gullies and traveling ways – will be developed conventionally.

Drilling will be performed using hand-held drills while cleaning will be done using winches.

Once underground mining is approved by the board, mining the Zandfontein resource – which is where historical mining took place – will start at 40 000 t a month run-of-mine for two years, after which it will be doubled. The operation will have an overall mine life of 22 years.

The potential to advance new mining development in the CRM’s Crocette and Kareespruit sections, with indicated resources of 840 000 oz and 3.25-million ounces respectively, could extend the life-of-mine to about 50 years.

Crocette has a measured resource of 430 000 oz, with established mining layouts to 9 Level that can be used, should Eastplats decide to mine the area.

According to the new design, the mine, which currently ends at 6 Level, will develop to 12 Level, at a depth of 820 m.

Eastplats has also re-evaluated its underground support systems, replacing sticks with a timberless solution, while the previous 1.8 m roof bolts will be replaced with 2 m cable anchors. The mine will also use concrete packs and pillars.

These measures will reduce logistics, materials handling and costs, in addition to providing more time at the face.

In terms of mine development, the CRM will progress from conducting development on waste in the footwall, 30 m below reef, to conducting development on reef.

The new mining method will also take greater cognisance of the fault, leading to the creation of three distinct zones with their own infrastructure. These will also become ventilation and support control districts.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The CRM has a net present value of $188-million ($202-million including the tailings storage facility) and an internal rate of return of 118%.

Capital Expenditure
To startup underground operations, Eastplats needs $25-million that will largely comprise initial mining capital to re-equip the stopes and winches, refurbish the lamp room and get equipment to site.

Of the total, $5.5-million (R85-million) is needed to recommission the plant, including the crusher and comminution circuit silos, while $1.4-million is needed to commission items, such as pumps and pipes, and employ labour.

Also included in the upfront capital costs is contingency capital of $6-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Restarting underground mining at the CRM depends on whether Eastplats can secure sufficient funding, as well as obligatory board approval, while the miner is conducting its CRM restart business execution plan and raising the required capital.

Latest Developments
Eastplats has raised C$7.04-million through a rights offer.

The company announced in March that it would undertake the rights offer to help fund its growth projects, with the Zandfontein underground project, which has been on care and maintenance since 2013 – being a priority.

Eastplats expects to use the existing vertical shaft No 3 and the No 4 declines to mine areas from 4 Level to 12 Level.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
ABT (operator).

Contact Details for Project Information
Eastern Platinum, tel +1 604 800 8200 or email info@eastplats.com.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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