Platinum Group Metals Ltd. (“Platinum Group” or the “Company”) reports that development on the WBJV Project 1 platinum mine is progressing well.The north mine twin declines are now developed to a length of approximately 1,220 metres. An underground drive along the strike of the deposit has now advanced on the Merensky reef for approximately 130 metres with no major offsets.
The 1st raise position into the Merensky Reef panel has been reached and the raise will commence shortly. The declines themselves are continuing and turns into development headings targeting mine blocks below the current development level are now underway. Crews are currently achieving the planned advance rates at the north mine.
A second set of twin declines at the south mine are being developed into the ore body 1.8 kilometers south of the north mine portal. Advance to date of south mine declines is approximately 60 metres. The development of these declines is progressing slower than anticipated due to poorer ground conditions than expected in the first 50 metres vertical from surface. The south declines are expected to move out of poor near surface conditions in the next month and development rates will improve. As a result of the slower development rates in the south mine and a one month project delay as a result of Section 54 safety work stoppages, the targeted start date for first concentrate production has been adjusted by six months to mid-2015. The ramp-up profile for production from this date forward over the following two years is similar to previous projections.
Surface development is on track. Surface earthworks and lay down areas are well advanced. Major mill components have been ordered. Expected deliveries for all major components remain on schedule. Power and water requirements are expected to be provided as required. Eskom is currently installing transformers for the initial 10MVA service to site. The Company and Eskom are working on a plan to provide the site with a further 10MVA for commissioning and early production requirements, which will be sufficient for all mining and milling operations until the full 40 MVA service is delivered. The operation does not require more than 20 MVA for several years.
The Company is seeing escalation in Rand terms at Project 1 in areas such as labour, diesel fuel, power and certain supplies. These escalations have been consistent with those seen in the South African mining industry in general over the last 18 months. The Company’s original cost estimates were modelled at 8 Rand to the US Dollar. With the Rand currently at or near 10 Rand to the dollar these cost escalations are substantially offset in dollar terms and the net effect of escalation and project delays at present is estimated at less than a 10% increase from previous cost estimates. Major service contracts and equipment purchase contracts are collectively in keeping with previous cost estimates.
Qualified Person, Quality Control and Assurance, Verification
R. Michael Jones, P.Eng, (CEO and shareholder), is the non-independent Qualified Person for this press release. He has relevant experience in the platinum industry for the past 12 years and precious metals exploration and mine operations over the past 25 years. Mr. Jones has reviewed the mine plans and the development schedules of the Company and has determined the estimates contained therein are sufficient for this disclosure. He has visited the property on numerous occasions.