Wesizwe Platinum: Mine plans moved up to 2020

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Wesizwe Platinum, backed by Chinese money, is pressing on with its mine and yesterday said it had moved its target date for full production up to 2020. Wesizwe’s flagship Bakubung project is one of only a handful of platinum shafts being sunk in South Africa – or anywhere. It has generated more interest than would be normally expected from a mine of this size, which aims to hit full production of 420 000 ounces of platinum group metals a year by October 2020, up from a previous target of 2022. That would be around 10 percent of current South African production. Wesizwe’s shareholders, including a Chinese consortium headed by mining giant Jinchuan, which has a 45 percent stake, are taking a long view and have deep pockets from which to sink money into areas where other investors fear to tread. Wesizwe represents the first direct Chinese thrust into platinum production in Africa and as such marks a new chapter in the Asian giant’s scramble for resources on the continent. The Chinese Development Bank has provided a $650 million (R7 billion) loan for the project. The total cost is estimated at R10.7bn so there is a shortfall which Paul Smith, the chief operating officer, said would kick in around 2017. The mine will be semi-mechanised and the labour force will generally be highly skilled. This may help the company avoid some of the labour unrest which has swept the industry. Wesizwe shares fell 3.85 percent to close at 75c on the JSE yesterday. – Reuters


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