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Ivanhoe Mines excoriates Globe and Mail over Platreef report

Ivanhoe Mines backlashes report on its Platreef platinum mine

Platreef discovery. (Image courtesy of Ivanhoe Mines)

Executives from Canadian Ivanhoe Mines (TSX:IVN) published Monday an open letter directed at one of the main newspapers in Canada, which published Friday an article alleging the company engaged in illicit practices to obtain the necessary permits for its Platreef mine in South Africa.

According to The Globe and Mail’s piece, two men, including an official from Ivanhoe Mines, told an 82-year-old villager to give up her land or lose her monthly pension of about US$120. And this is only one of the claims the Vancouver-based miner considers an overstatement.

Addressed to Paul Waldie, editor of The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business and Geoffrey York, Africa correspondent for the newspaper the open letter says the story  “is blighted by false allegations and misrepresentations, and gratuitous exaggerations.”

The Vancouver-based firm, and its subsidiary Ivanplats, say that parts of the story serve “as a soapbox for a coterie of dedicated critics, some of whose self-serving motivations curiously are ignored.”

But what bothered the firm the most, as stated in the letter, was the lack of fundamental balance on the facts:

In its pre-publication contacts with Ivanplats, The Globe never raised the specific case of the story’s emotive linchpin figure — the elderly woman who claimed that she was pressured into consenting to the conduct of exploration drilling on communal land that the woman’s family had used to grow food crops. The Globe also never gave the company an opportunity to address any relevant circumstances of this specific case before the newspaper prominently published the allegation. Based only on a general, non-specific question from The Globe, and therefore unable to review details of the case that interested the newspaper, Ivanplats did advise The Globe on December 17 last year that the company had no knowledge of the use of any alleged pressure tactics and never would condone any such improper conduct.

According to the company and based on a preliminary economic assessment, the Platreef project, which received final approval in November, could mine eight million tonnes a year yielding 785,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold annually. This, says Ivanhoe, would make it Africa’s lowest-cost producer of platinum-group metals and one of the world’s biggest platinum mines.

Opposition despite empowerment

Ivanhoe completed an empowerment deal in September, which means that 26% of the venture is in hands of local communities.

However, The Globe and Mail article says there is increasing opposition to the project, which qualifies as “highly controversial” as it has sparked violent protests and clashes with police.

Ivanhoe counters the cases exposed show an “incomplete, lacking facts and misrepresented” reality.

The miner has spent $236 million on Platreef since getting involved in it in 1993.

The company received additional unwanted publicity over the weekend, as Times Live reported that the wife of CEO Lars-Eric Johansson is facing criminal charges for throwing a water bottle at a flight attendant on an Air Canada flight.

Read Ivanhoe Mines letter here:

Ivanhoe Mines excorciates Globe and Mail over Platreef report