Over the last two years Anooraq has funded extensive exploration work on Plateau's 9 600 ha Platreef property which is located on the northern limb of the prolific Bushveld layered mafic intrusive complex. The Platreef property covers 12 km of strike length of the PGM-bearing Platreef horizon and lies immediately adjacent to Anglo American Platinum Corporation's property, which hosts eight deposits totalling 55-million ounces of PGM resources, including the Sandsloot open-pit mine (47-million tons grading 4,8 g/t PGM+Au). Anooraq is also negotiating to acquire other strategically located parcels in the region.
Platinum group metals are hosted in the Platreef horizon, which is stratigraphically equivalent to the Merensky reef located on other limbs of the Bushveld. However, Platreef mineralisation is considerably thicker (up to 50 m) than the Merensky reef mineralisation, which is typically one to three metres thick. Compared to the Merensky Reef, which is mined by labour-intensive underground methods, the Platreef is amenable to low-cost large-scale surface- mining methods. For PGM explorers, this feature makes the Platreef one of the most attractive exploration targets in the world and the northern limb of the Bushveld has seen a dramatic increase in exploration activities over the past year. With plans announced to increase company production by an additional two- million ounces a year, expectations are that Anglo Platinum will place other deposits on its Platreef ground on stream. African Minerals, a privately-held affiliate of Ivanhoe Capital, is active on its ground, which abuts Anooraq's southern farm, Rietfontein. Falconbridge acquired farms immediately to the south of African Minerals in October 2000 through an agreement with Thabex Exploration. To the north, Australian junior, Pan Palladium is planning an exploration programme on its property.
Furthermore, Anglo Platinum has announced the planned construction and development of a PGM smelting and refining complex near the town of Pietersburg adjacent to the Platreef developments. With this obvious interest and development focus the Platreef is set to become one of the world's major centres of PGM production.