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Implats looks north

Company acquires rights to take control of the Waterberg Project.

Impala Platinum (Implats) announced on Monday it had acquired a minority interest in the Waterberg Project that is jointly being developed by a consortium comprising Platinum Group Metals, the Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec), and Mnombo Wethu Consultants.

Implats will pay $30 million in cash to acquire a 15% interest in the project. Further investment, which includes the ability to take a controlling stake, will be dependent on the outcome of a definitive feasibility study (DFS).

Based on the desire to majority own and manage the project, Implats will pay Jogmec $34.8 million for a further 12.195% interest, and contribute $130 million to building the mine for a further 22.815%. This will give the company a 50.01% interest once the project is completed.

The company describes the Waterberg project, which is located in Limpopo on the northern limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex as a “large scale platinum group metal resource with an attractive risk profile given its shallow nature. This facilitates fully-mechanised production with the potential for the project to have among the lowest operating costs in the PGM sector.”

The project, once completed, will join Anglo American’s Mogalakwena and Ivanhoe’s Platreef as other platinum mines operating on the northern limb. 

The decision to look outside of the Rustenburg lease area comes at a time when Implats is struggling to contain costs at its older operations. Barely a month ago the company announced that 2 500 jobs were at risk at the Rustenburg operations given declining labour productivity and production, and this did not rule out further processes being undertaken to restore the operations to sustainability.

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