Platinum Group Metals holds a 49% effective interest in the Waterberg Joint Venture; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) holds a 37% interest; and empowerment partner Mnombo Wethu Consultants holds the balance. 

WorleyParsons completed the Water-berg PEA. The partnership is immediately initiating a pre-feasibility study of theproject.

Platinum Group Metals President R. Michael Jones said, “The Waterberg Joint Venture project stands out as an exceptional opportunity for the shallow production of safe, low-cost platinum, palladium, and gold by fully mechanized mining methods utilizing multiple decline access ramps. The planned 655,000 3E oz of steady state production is significant in the global market for platinum group elements.

“The peak funding estimate of $885 million is modest compared to the opportunity for large-scale participation in the platinum and palladium markets. In addition, we see significant opportunity to expand the project’s resources and to optimize the project in the pre-feasibility study…. The potential for good margins, improved safety, better productivity, and well-paid workers, along with improved working conditions compared to conventional mines, is exciting,” he said.

The Waterberg resource estimate is based on three layered zones of mineralization: the T1, T2 and F layers. The mine plan proposed in the PEA utilizes three decline clusters to access the deposit. The shallow edge of the T layer is at 130-m vertical below surface; the shallow edge of the F layer is at 220 m. The planned mining method is all mechanized, including a combination of room-and-pillar mining on mineralized layers 3- to 10-m thick and long-hole open stoping on layers 10- to 60-m thick. 

The decline ramps for underground access are planned to be developed to the shallow edge of the T and F layers. From there, development ramps will be within the deposit along an apparent dip angle.

The Waterberg project will utilize a standard flotation mill, producing 655,000 oz/y of 3E in concentrate, with copper and nickel as credits. Independent test work has indicated that an attractive sulphide concentrate grading more than 100 g/mt 3E can be produced from both the T and F mineralized material. Further work to confirm the concentrate recoveries and characteristics will be completed during the pre-feasibility study. 

Operating costs, including mining, milling, concentrate shipment, onsite overheads, the state royalty, and an allocation for head office overheads, are estimated at $438/3E oz, including copper and nickel as credits. (All estimates are based on a currency conversion of 10 Rand/US$.) 

Waterberg project inferred resources are estimated at 167 million mt, grading 3.26 g/mt 3E (0.98 g/mt platinum, 1.97 g/mt palladium and 0.32 g/mt gold). For current economic calculations, the deposit has been truncated at a depth of 1,000 m. This cut-off may be reconsidered during the pre-feasibility study.

African Barrick has three operating mines—Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi (pictured here), and North Mara—all located in northwest Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of African Barrick)