South African judge clears path for Ivanhoe Mines’ Platreef mine development

Ivanplats, a subsidiary of Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN), will be allowed to relocate some graves present at its Platreef platinum group metals site, near Mokopane, after a South African judge revoked Thursday an interim interdict that prevented the company from doing so.

Ivanhoe’s local unit had challenged the temporary ruling, issued in November last year, on the basis that the hearing was conducted without the company’s knowledge or participation.

Ruling clears the way for the company to proceed with a planned relocation of graves located at its Platreef mine development site near Mokopane, in Limpopo Province.

“The Platreef underground mine represents one of the most significant foreign direct investments into the South African economy in recent years, and constitutes an asset which will yield very significant benefits to the South African economy in general and the economy of Mokopane and the Limpopo Province in particular,” Ivanplats’ managing director Patricia Makhesha said in an affidavit submitted to the court, according to an e-mailed document.

The firm, 64% owned by Ivanhoe Mines, the Vancouver-based company founded by Robert Friedland, is developing a multi-billion dollar platinum project in Limpopo Province, which could be the world’s largest mine of that group of metals.

The company currently employs 550 permanent and contract workers after it received approval from the South African government in November 2014 to build the new $1.2-billion platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, nickel and copper underground mine just outside Mokopane.

Ivanplats plans to develop the Platreef mine in three phases: an initial annual rate of 4 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to establish an operating platform to support future expansions; followed by a doubling of production to 8 Mtpa; and then a third expansion phase to a steady-state 12 Mtpa.

Its parent company, Ivanhoe Mines, has become the best-performing stock on the S&P/TSX Composite Index in the past six months as expectations build over its touted copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Shares in the company, however, were trading 2.66% lower Thursday to $4.02 in Toronto at 12:24PM EST.