$650m Chinese loan for Wesizwe’s Bakubung platinum mine project

21st January 2013 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The China Development Bank (CDB) had approved a $650-million loan for the development of the Bakubung platinum mine project in South Africa's North West province, the Chinese-controlled JSE-listed Wesizwe Platinum confirmed on Monday.

“This is good news for Wesizwe and sends a positive signal to the industry as a whole during what is currently a challenging period of time,” said Wesizwe CEO Jianke Gao, who added that 30.21% of the project employees were local.

An accredited rock-drill operator academy, which took in its first local recruits in November, was part of a training initiative to support future employment needs, the company said in a media release.

Part of the $650-million loan would be used to refund two separate $100-million short-term loans, which CDB and Wesizwe signed last month.

The on-schedule Bakubung project, on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, near Rustenburg, was on budget.

Main commissioning was scheduled for 2018 and full production was anticipated in 2023.

Gao added that funding demonstrated the level of confidence in the project, and in the future of the South African mining industry.

Wesizwe agreed the financing deal with Jinchuan, of China, and the China-Africa Development Fund in 2011, when the China-Africa Jinchuan Investment consortium paid $227-million for 45% of Wesizwe and undertook to provide $877-million in funding for the Bakubung platinum mine project.

Earlier this month, Wesizwe appointed former Aquarius Platinum executive Paul Smith as its new COO.

Gao, a mining engineer, has held many key positions within the Jinchuan group.