Platinum start-up next month
PLATINUM Australia, owner and operator of platinum mines in South Africa and Australia, says mining at its Smokey Hills operation will begin next month. The mine, about 300km north-east of Johannesburg, is estimated to contain 1 million ounces of platinum-group metals, John Lewins, chief executive officer, told the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town.
The initial capital cost will be about $46 million, with $37 million of that amount coming from Standard Bank Group Ltd.
‘‘ It is a very attractive project, a seven-year project,’’ the Perth-based company’s CEO said. ‘‘ It’s a relatively short and aggressive construction period.’’
Car-makers use platinum in exhaust systems to cut emissions, especially in diesel- fuelled vehicles. Petrol-burning engines use platinum, but rely more on palladium.
Platinum prices have reached a record $US1812 an ounce in London. Power cuts have slashed production in South Africa, source of more than 80 per cent of world output. Eskom Holdings, South Africa’s state-owned power utility, has been unable to meet demand for electricity since January 10 and expects power shortages to last until at least 2013.
‘‘ We have factored in higher costs for putting in our own power,’’ Lewins says.
Australia Platinum is also undertaking a feasibility study on its Kalahari Platinum project, 330km west of Johannesburg, and expects to complete it by mid-year. Bloomberg
Platinum: Used in cars