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Ivanhoe Mines’ co-chairmen Robert Friedland and Yufeng Miles Sun announced that the company’s South African subsidiary, Ivanplats, is fast-tracking a feasibility study on a smaller-scale, early-stage development plan using Shaft 1.

The shaft will be used as a production shaft at the Platreef palladium, platinum, nickel, copper, gold and rhodium mining licence, which is located on the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa’s Limpopo provinces.

Spot prices of palladium and rhodium – two key metals contained in the Platreef ore – have soared in recent months, propelling Platreef’s metals-price basket to a new, all-time high.

An independent feasibility study is underway to review Ivanhoe’s planned smaller-scale, early-stage, lower-capital-cost production plan. Ivanhoe’s plan would accelerate the mine’s first production by using Shaft 1 as the mine’s initial production shaft, followed by expansions to the production rate outlined in the project’s 2017 definitive feasibility study. Ivanhoe’s smaller-scale mine design also is optimized to target the highest-grade areas of the mineral resource in close vicinity to Shaft 1.

Platreef’s Shaft 1 currently is at a depth of 957 metres below surface. It is scheduled to be completed to a final depth of approximately 1 000 metres by the end of July 2020. Work on Shaft 1’s 950-metre-level station – the shaft’s third and final station – is expected to be completed in March 2020.

Palladium price hits all-time high

Palladium prices continue to surge to record highs, topping US$2,100 an ounce as stricter air-quality rules boost demand for the metal used in vehicle pollution-control devices. Platreef has an estimated 26.8 million ounces of palladium in current indicated mineral resources, and an additional 43.0 million ounces in current inferred mineral resources, at a 2.0 g/t 3PE+gold cut-off.

Platreef has an estimated 1.8 million ounces of rhodium in current indicated mineral resources, and an additional 3.1 million ounces in current inferred mineral resources, at a 2.0 g/t 3PE+gold cut-off. The rhodium in the Platreef ore is strongly correlated with both palladium and platinum.

Rhodium is a rare platinum-group metal that is chemically stable at high temperatures, resistant to corrosion and mainly used with palladium and platinum in the production of automobile catalytic converters that curb harmful emissions. Approximately 80% of the world’s rhodium supply comes from mines in South Africa, and global production of rhodium is only approximately one million ounces annually.

The price of rhodium has surged 32% already this month, attaining a price of more than US$8 200 an ounce – the highest price since it hit more than US$10 000 an ounce in 2008.

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