Half-billion South African platinum mine gets green light

The South African government has ok'd a $443-million platinum mine located north of Rustenburg.

The Department of Minerals announced today it has issued a Mining Right for the WBJV Project 1 platinum mine to Vancouver-based Platinum Group Metals (TSX:PTM, NYSE Amex:PLG).

The mine is modeled to produce 275,000 total ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold per year, for 22 years. It will be operated by Maseve Investments 11 (Pty) and jointly owned by Platinum Group Metals (75%) and JSE-listed Wesizwe Platinum Limited (JSE:WEZ) (26%).

The companies have invested $100 million into the project so far including site preparation and underground workings. A debt facility for US$260 million is in progress to fund expanded underground development and to construct a milling, concentrating and tailings treatment facility. Total capex for the project, which has been under construction since May 2011,  is $443 million. The second phase of the project including the start of underground access is slated for the second quarter of this year.

Meanwhile,  allafrica.com reported two days ago that South African state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has invested $420 million in a public-private venture, which aims to be one of the world's top four platinum producers in the next five years:

The IDC will hold a 16.2% stake in the venture with local investment consortium Pallinghurst Resources and the Bakgatla-Ba-Kgafela community, which owns a significant portion of the land in the vicinity of the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa's North West province, where the venture will operate.

The deal, announced on Thursday, will involve the consolidation of the platinum group metals (PGM) interests controlled and owned by the Bakgatla and Pallinghurst – including the assets of former JSE-listed company Platmin.