Aquarius Platinum agreed in early May 2011 to acquire Northam Platinum’s platinum group metals and associated base metals mineral rights on farms adjacent to Aquarius’ Everest mine on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Igneous complex in South Africa. The transaction is valued at about $179 million and is subject to regulatory approvals that could take 12 to 18 months to clear.
The mineral rights acquired comprise several farms immediately to the west of Everest. Collectively called Booysendal South, the property hosts both the UG2 and Merensky reef horizons. Mineral resources on the property are estimated at 31.1 million oz of platinum group metals plus gold, including 1.9 million oz measured, 7.5 million oz indicated and 21.7 million oz inferred. Closure of the transaction would increase Aquarius’ current mineral resource base by about 24%.
“The UG2 ore body at Booysendal South is contiguous with Aquarius’ Everest mine, and as a result, Aquarius is uniquely placed to access this reef horizon in the short to medium term from the existing Everest infrastructure. Adding Booysendal South to the Everest mine plan has the potential to extend the life of the Everest mine from some eight years to in excess of 30 plus years, while also potentially enabling Aquarius to raise mining volumes at Everest to make use of both current excess and potential expansion capacity at the Everest processing plant,” the Aquarius statement said.
The Everest mine is accessed by two decline shaft systems, one a conveyor belt, people, material, and vehicle access way and the other a vehicle access way only. A third access way, the valley box cut, is currently under construction. The Everest concentrator has capacity to process 230,000 mt/y. The property is targeting steady-state production of 200,000 oz of platinum group metals in Aquarius’ fiscal 2013.