Darwendale platinum project set for next year

Business Reporter
Construction work on Great Dyke Investments (GDI)’s Darwendale platinum development project will start in the second quarter of 2020, a senior official with one of the major shareholders, Russia’s Vi Holdings, has said. Vi Holdings, through its JSC Afromet subsidiary, owns half the shares in GDI, while Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture (Pvt) Ltd owns the rest.

This project is progressing to a development phase that can be called final from standpoint of project preparation for implementation. Vi Holdings’ First Deputy CEO Alexander Ivanov, revealed the timeline to Russia media house TASS on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa forum held last week.

Mr Ivanov also revealed that a range of financial documents have been signed to date, including on the sidelines of the Forum.

This, he said, definitely provided a strong impetus to project development.

The Great Dyke Investments consortium for development of the Darwendale deposit was established in 2014. At a production rate of 3,5 million tonnes a year, the Darwendale project is expected to produce an average of 280 000 oz/y of PGM and gold at Phase 1.

A two-stage expansion plan will increase its throughput capacity to 10,5 million tonnes a year with metal production reaching 860 000 oz/y of PGM and gold.

Last week, the company announced the appointment of former Implats chief executive officer David Brown to the position of chairman of the Board.

In his first statement as chairman Mr Brown said the platinum venture has the potential to become “a major part of the global PGM industry.”

Mr Brown, however, said there is still a lot of hard work to be done before development of the mine can commence.

To date, the company has done substantial and sufficient work for “transitioning to the next stage, which will include detailed design, contracting for major equipment elements as well as the start of construction.”

This will, however, be subject to the successful financing stage of the project being completed, according to Mr Brown.

African Export-Import Bank has been roped in as the main financial partner and is reported to be targeting financial closure for the syndicated funding by March 31, 2020.

According to Mr Ivanov, investments of over US$500 million in total are required for the first phase of the project.

Advanced negotiations are also currently underway with a number of South African, Russian and Zimbabwean financial institutions to participate in the syndicate providing funds for equipment, machinery and services procurement.

“But I am confident that the Darwendale project has the potential to become a significant low-cost platinum group metal producer, ultimately becoming a major part of the global PGM industry in the mid-term,” Mr Brown said.

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