Plat­inum start-up next month

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Resources -

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

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