Picture: Boxer Ngwenya.

Johannesburg - Ivanhoe Mines, the mining developer founded by billionaire Robert Friedland, said it received state approval to start building a platinum mine in South Africa.

The Department of Mineral Resources notified Ivanhoe on May 30 that the right for its Platreef project was granted, the Vancouver-based company said in a statement on its website today.

“The mining right, when executed, will be for an initial period of up to 30 years and will be renewable for an unlimited number of consecutive periods,” the company said.

Ivanhoe plans to develop the mine in three phases, with the first two taking production to at least 785,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold a year.

The asset is alongside Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena, the biggest and most profitable mine of the world’s largest producer.

Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin estimate they have so far lost 20.6 billion rand in revenue in a strike by more than 70,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union that started January 23.

The country accounts for more than two-thirds of global mined supply of platinum, used for jewellry and to reduce emissions from vehicles.

Ivanhoe plans to start development of project’s main production shaft in the first quarter of next year, according to its website. - Bloomberg News