21/09/2004 - 22:00

Juniors drawn to Africa

21/09/2004 - 22:00

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

Local junior mining companies’ interests in platinum projects continues to mount with West Perth-based Platinum Australia signing recent agreements to acquire a stake in two South African projects.

Juniors drawn to Africa

Local junior mining companies’ interests in platinum projects continues to mount with West Perth-based Platinum Australia signing recent agreements to acquire a stake in two South African projects.

It is a change in tack for Platinum Australia which, earlier this year, put its Panton project in the Kimberley on hold.

Platinum Australia managing chairman Peter Allchurch said its patented Panton treatment process, which was developed for the Panton project, would increase recoveries at its most advanced South African project, the Kplats project.

He said the Panton process, which is yet to be commercially tested but has produced high-grade concentrates from refractory ores during test work, could be suited to other metallurgical difficult platinum group metals (PGM) projects in South Africa.

Platinum group metals – which include platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, osmium, and iridium – have electrical and industrial uses as well as being used in jewellery.

The growing string of PGM explorers are part of a much bigger group of junior Australian miners investigating the African continent, which has traditionally been associated with geo-political risk.

However, the growing interest in the region could be seen at a recent African mining conference.

Miners say the region is becoming more attractive because of increased support from African governments, improving skills and infrastructure in many African states and consolidation among the South African miners.

The lucrative South African platinum industry, which dominates world production of PGMs, is of particular interest to the smaller Australian mining companies because of a number of changes in the sector as well as a lack of success in Australian PGM development.

The PGM explorers going to South Africa are generally characterised by multinational management teams operated out of Sydney or Perth and publicly listed in Australia.

They include Platinum Australia, AIM Resources, Pan Palladium and Nkwe Platinum.

They have been encouraged by the highly successful South Perth-based Aquarius Platinum, which trail-blazed the South African platinum sector in the late 1990s.

Sydney-based mining analyst for Far East Capital, Warwick Grigor said smaller PGM explorers were moving into South Africa, bringing new technology and competitive mining techniques as well as the ability to access capital.

He said they were being attracted by a number of reasons including the lack of a junior mining industry in South Africa, which is dominated by three majors; Anglo Platinum, Longman and Impala.

Mr Grigor said Platinum Australia’s expansion plan was quite promising

He said despite its small land holding it had a strong management team led by managing director John Lewins and although the Panton Process remained commercially untested, various aspects worked in other plants.

Independent Mining Research mining analyst John Macdonald added that sudden growth in platinum demand had also created room for new entrants in South Africa.

“Patersons Securities head of research Rob Brierley said Africa was a hot topic due to the change in conditions opening up the region to smaller, more nimble miners.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options