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Ivanhoe Mines has announced the completion of the Shaft 1 production changeover at the company’s Platreef platinum group metals (PGMs) and copper project in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

Shaft 1 will serve at Platreef’s initial production shaft and is about 450 m from the first high-grade area of the Phase 1, Flatreef orebody.

On April 22 last year, Ivanhoe subsidiary Ivanplats celebrated the first blast on Platreef’s 950 m level, marking the start of lateral mine development towards the high-grade Flatreef orebody.

The underground mine development will use battery-electric M2C drill rigs and 14 t load haul dumpers, which will help reduce the mine’s carbon footprint.

The company expects first production in the third quarter of 2024.

“The completion of changeover is another noteworthy milestone in the growth of Ivanhoe into a major, diversified miner – one with top environmental, social and governance credentials and an industry-leading portfolio of tier one assets,” says Ivanhoe president Marna Cloete.

She adds that Platreef is very scalable, with the Phase 1 mine only being the beginning of a multi-stage, multi-generational mining complex underpinned by a high-grade, enormous resource and exploration upside.

Future expansions to 12-million tonnes of ore a year and beyond, as demonstrated in previous studies, would position Platreef among the world’s largest and lowest-cost nickel and PGM mines, producing more than 24 000 t/y of nickel and 1.1-million ounces of palladium, rhodium, platinum and gold a year.