Platreef development hit by ‘trouble-makers’
The development of the latest major new underground, mechanised platinum mine, near Mokopane, in Limpopo, has been marred by a “small group” of people instigating animosity towards the emerging operation.
However, TSX-listed Ivanhoe Mines, led by founder Robert Friedland, on Thursday vowed it would not “be held hostage” by “known trouble-makers” bent on disrupting the construction of its Platreef project to advance their own “self-serving agendas”.
The latest incident near the $1.7-billion project, which started preparations earlier this month following the activation of a mining right by the Department of Mineral Resources, ended in communities’ confrontation with police.
In November, Ivanhoe resumed site work preparations for the three-phase development, with the construction of the initial production shaft of the planned underground mine the focal point of the first phase of development.
Phase 1 would see the establishment of an operating platform to support the start of four-million tonnes a year of production by 2020, followed by Phase 2, which would allow the ramp-up of capacity to eight-million tonnes a year by 2024. The company was eyeing a steady-state plant capacity of 12-million tonnes a year by 2028 during Phase 3.
However, Ivanhoe claimed “known trouble-makers” instigated community members to gather this week at an access roadway with “false claims” that the company would be recruiting workers for construction at the site.
“The incident ended after the South African Police Services’ public order unit dispersed the illegal gathering,” the company said in a statement, noting that about 100 people were on the site at the time.
“The company will not be held hostage by a small group of self-serving agitators whose agenda and conduct is contrary to the majority interests of the area communities that will benefit from the jobs and socioeconomic development that will flow from the development of [the project],” it said.
Ivanhoe was confident that the “overwhelming majority” of people in the host communities supported the Platreef project, particularly after concluding a broad-based black economic-empowerment deal that benefited 20 host communities.
Through a trust, the targeted 150 000-resident communities held a 20% stake in the project and would receive a yearly fixed contribution of R11-million while the mine was being developed.
BY: NATASHA ODENDAAL