The Development Bank of China has approved a US$650 million (R5.74 billion) loan to JSE-listed mid-tier precious metals producer Wesizwe Platinum for its Bakubung Platinum Mine located on the west limb of the Bushveld complex outside Rustenburg.

Wesizwe is positive that the loan negotiations will be concluded at the end of February 2013.

The loan includes two separate short-term loans of US$100 million each and the long-term loan of US$650 million.

The Bakubung mine has a lifespan of 35 years and is expected to produce around 350 000 oz of PGMs for its lifespan. The mine is expected to reach full production in 2018.

The mine will consist of an underground mine with a twin vertical shaft system with a main shaft and a ventilation shaft that will also function as a second escape route, as well as a process plant.

The main shaft is planned to have a hoisting capacity of 230 000 t of ore plus 40 000 t of waste per month. Initially, the Merensky Reef ore will be mined at the rate of 180 000 t and the UG2 ore will make up the balance of 50 000 tpm. Once the Merensky has been depleted, the full 230 000 t will be generated from UG2 ore. It is anticipated that the annual 4E (3 PGM + Au) production during steady state be around 350 000 oz.

Jianke Gao, CEO of Wesizwe, says: “The confirmation of our new funding arrangements for our flagship project represents the first of several important milestones to be reached and announced this year, and demonstrates the level of confidence in the project and in the future of the South African mining industry, on the part of our Chinese shareholders. This is good news for Wesizwe and sends a positive signal to the industry as a whole during what is currently a challenging period of time.”

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