Platinum Mining in South Africa

Platinum mining in South Africa, also called PGM mining or Platinum Group Metals mining, is rife with South Africa holding over 80% of the world’s platinum group metal reserves. This is evidenced with the country currently having in excess of 80 PGM mining projects, the majority held by only 11 platinum mining companies.

As far as platinum mining in southern Africa is concerned, South Africa has the lion share of projects, Zimbabwe places second with 8 platinum mines and Botswana third with 2. The remaining platinum mining activity on the sub-continent is split, with Gabon, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania each having only 1 platinum or PGM mine.

For investors interested in the PGM sector in Africa, South Africa seems to be the logical starting point as far as the number of platinum mining activities is concerned. Of these 80+ platinum mines, 21 of them are operational, just 1 has been closed and 6 are under care and maintenance at the time of writing in March 2018.

South African platinum mines in stages – quick reference

The platinum mining industry in South Africa increased production from 163 tons in 2010 to almost 200 tons in 2017, with total sales of over R 9 billion. Africa Mining IQ currently tracks 82 platinum projects across South Africa across all stages of development. As of March 2018 these are:

  • Pre-feasibility: 21
  • Feasibility: 7
  • Grassroots: 4
  • Bankable: 1
  • Operational: 21
  • Active: 10
  • Dormant: 15
  • Completed: 2
  • Closed: 1

Investment and/or business opportunities

The good news for those wanting to invest in the South African platinum mining industry is that of all the platinum mines listed, 26 of them are on-hold and 12 of the mines’ licences were relinquished by mine owners. This translates to at least 38 investment or business opportunities, and that is without taking into consideration all the peripheral activities and services required for each project. This bodes well for interested parties because ‘on-hold’ for the mining operations means just that, they are on-hold and the activities, at whatever stage they were prior to the status change, will resume once again. This provides a window of opportunity for interested parties to discover more about them and ascertain if there are potential business opportunities among them.

In the instances where licences were relinquished, this is not to say the mines are defunct or valueless, but the licences were more than likely relinquished for any number of reasons such as changes in mining legislation; extraordinarily high taxes; too much red tape or even labour disputes. The fact remains that currently, for PGM mining in South Africa, there are numerous opportunities for mining investors as well as product and service suppliers to the mining industry. The way to access the information that will allow you to make these decisions, or at the very least provide the necessary knowledge to aid in this decision-making process, is to take out a subscription to Africa Mining IQ.

Geographic advantage

In addition to South Africa accounting for approximately 80% of the world’s platinum supplies, its palladium production represents about 40% of the world’s gross production.

PGM is concentrated in South Africa’s 2 billion-year old Bushveld Igneous Complex, especially in complexes found in the Limpopo and North West provinces. The geographic breakdown of platinum mines in each province is:

  • Free State: 1
  • Gauteng: 4
  • Limpopo: 35
  • Mpumalanga: 13
  • Northwest: 31

South Africa has another 4 provinces – the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Northern Cape and Western Cape. While there are currently no mines for PGM mining in these provinces, each of them is active in the mining sector boasting minerals of their own.

Platinum mine owners in South Africa

The 80+ platinum mines scattered over the 5 above-listed South African provinces are owned by 38 different platinum mine owners. The mine owners with the most platinum mining interests in South Africa are:

  • Anglo American Platinum Limited (AMPATS): 12
  • Impala Platinum Holdings Limited: 8
  • Sibanye-Stillwater: 8
  • Lonmin Plc: 7
  • Sedibelo Platinum Mines Ltd (Platinum Limited): 5

The following platinum mining companies each own 4 platinum mines in South Africa

  • African Rainbow Minerals
  • Atlatsa Resources (Anooraq Resources Corp)
  • Platinum Group Metals Ltd
  • Eastern Platinum Ltd
  • Northam Platinum Ltd
  • Wesiswe Platinum Ltd

The remaining mines are owned by numerous other mining companies. Mention must be made of Rustenburg Platinum Mines, formerly an Anglo American subsidiary, because it is not mentioned as a major mine owner above. The mining company is now a subsidiary of Sibanye Gold and still actively mines platinum minerals in the North West province and further afield.

All information is available on African Mining IQ. So, for up-to-the-minute reporting on platinum and other mining activities in South Africa, read more about a tailored subscription to Africa Mining IQ, the continent’s largest mining information service with over 1 850 mining projects listed. Each project is tracked, analysed and monitored for the duration of its development, from grassroots and pre-feasibility to fully operational and right through to closure.

Locating platinum minerals

Platinum is found alongside other PGMs. In South Africa's Bushveld complex – and a limited number of other mineral bodies – PGM occurs in adequate quantities so that it is cost-effective to extract these metals exclusively. However, the overall platinum mining process is labour and capital intensive taking half a year or more and 12 tons of ore to produce one troy ounce (31.135 g) of pure platinum.

Africa Mining IQ is the ultimate intelligence resource for platinum mining, and other mining, in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

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