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Waterberg platinum group metals project, South Africa – update

Location map of the Waterberg project

Photo by Platinum Group Metals

7th April 2023

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Waterberg platinum group metals (PGMs) project.

Location
About 85 km north of Mokopane, in Limpopo, South Africa.

Project Owner/s
Waterberg Joint Venture (JV) Resources, or Waterberg JV Co, a JV between Platinum Group Metals, or PTM (37.05%); Impala Platinum Holdings, or Implats (15%); Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, or Jogmec (12.195%); Hanwa Co (9.755%); and black economic-empowerment partner Mnombo Wethu Consultants (26%). As a result of PTM's 49.90% ownership in Mnombo, the company has an effective interest in the Waterberg JV of 50.02%.

Project Description
The 2019 definitive feasibility study (DFS) mine plan envisages production of 4.8-million tonnes of ore a year and 420 000 platinum, palladium rhodium and gold ounces a year in concentrate.

The mine will initially access the orebody using two sets of twin decline tunnels, with fully mechanised longhole stoping methods and paste backfill used for mining. Paste backfill allows for a high mining extraction ratio, as mining can be completed next to backfilled stopes without leaving internal pillars.

Maintaining safety and reliability are key mine design criteria. As a result of the scale of the orebody, bulk mining on 20 m to 40 m sublevels using large underground equipment, and conveyors for ore and waste transport, will provide high efficiency.

Potential Job Creation
The project will create about 1 100 new highly skilled jobs.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has an after-tax net present value, at an 8% discount rate, of $982-million and an internal rate of return of 20.7%. This is based on the 2019 DFS prices of palladium $1 546, platinum $980, gold $1 548 and rhodium $5 036 ($/R:15).

Capital Expenditure
Capital expenditure is estimated at $874-million, including $87-million in contingencies. Peak project funding is estimated at $617-million, based on 2019 commodity prices and costs.

Latest Developments
An infill drill campaign that had been under way since November 2022 has been completed. The infill drill programme targeted near-surface inferred and indicated mineral resource blocks that have good potential for conversion to higher confidence levels, potentially identifying additional tonnage for inclusion in early mine plans.

All 16 planned T Zone boreholes and 16 planned F Zone boreholes have been drilled.

Drill cores from the completed boreholes have been logged and the mineralised intercepts recovered have been sampled and sent for assay by Intertek Genalysis Minerals, in Australia.

All F Zone final assays from the infill drill programme have been received.

Copper grades per tonne for all F Zone intercepts averaged 0.060%. Nickel grades per tonne for all F Zone intercepts averaged 0.184%.

In addition to the infill drill programme, several geotechnical holes have also been completed and several more remain to be drilled.

One exploration borehole is under way at a location about 15 km north of the main project area.

“This exploration borehole is intended to improve our understanding of the geology and economic potential of the Waterberg deposit on prospecting rights located adjacent to the north of the Waterberg project’s granted mining right,” PTM has stated.

Intrusive formations of the Bushveld Igneous Complex have been intercepted in this exploration borehole, as expected.

Drilling of the 16 F Zone boreholes was also intended to improve the delineation of the F Zone subcrop geometry. Results from the F Zone drilling are consistent with expectations. Some tonnage in the resource blocks drilled in the infill drill programme was included in previous mine planning for the 2019 Waterberg project DFS.

"We are once again pleased with the results from our infill drill programme and geotechnical drilling. Results are as expected and project geologists will use the results to update the Waterberg resource estimate, which project engineers will then use to optimize the Waterberg mine plan and development schedule for use in our Waterberg DFS update, which is in process,” PTM president and CEO Frank Hallam has said.

As reported previously, on October 18, 2022, project operating company Waterberg JV Resources approved in principle a pre-construction work programme of about $21-million over a 23-month period ending August 31, 2024.

From the work programme, an initial budget of about $2.5-million was approved for expenditure by March 31, and this work, including the infill drill programme, is nearly complete.

On March 24, the Waterberg JV board approved the funding of a second tranche of the work programme in the amount of $3.6-million. The stage two budget will cover the period from April 1 to August 31 and is to include Waterberg DFS update engineering, pre-construction engineering, electrical power supply engineering and the permitting and licensing of construction aggregate borrow pits identified near the planned Waterberg mine site.

Waste rock material retained after assaying of the T Zone and F Zone infill drilling will be further processed to determine dry-stack tailings characteristics and provide additional concentrate metallurgical data. If dry stack tailings methods are implemented, it is estimated that Waterberg mine water consumption could be reduced by 40% to 50%.

The company is focussed on advancing the Waterberg project to a development and construction decision. It is planned to be a mechanised, shallow, decline access platinum, palladium rhodium and gold  mine and is projected to be one of the largest and lowest cost underground PGMs mines globally.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Stantec Consulting International and DRA Projects SA (DFS).

Contact Details for Project Information
PTM, tel +27 11782 2186 or email info@platinumgroupmetals.net.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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