Ivanhoe Mines has completed the Shaft 1 production changeover at the Platreef palladium-rhodium-nickel-platinum-copper-gold project in South Africa.
The shaft will be Platreef's initial production shaft, located 450 metres away from the first orebody to be mined in Phase 1 production.
The company marked the first blast at Platreef's 950-metre level, which began development of the lateral mine. First production is anticipated in the September quarter of 2024.
Ivanhoe will now focus on completing Platreef's first ventilation raise and ore and waste-rock passes connecting the 750 level to the 950 level.
"The Phase 1 mine is only the beginning of a multi-stage, multi-generational mining complex underpinned by an enormous high-grade resource and vast exploration upside," Ivanplats chief executive Marna Cloete said.
"Future expansions to 12 million tonnes and beyond…would position Platreef among the world's largest and lowest-cost nickel and PGM mines."
Ivanhoe plans to incorporate sustainable technologies in Platreef, Cloete said.
"Platreef will align with our goal of ‘re-inventing mining' and leverage the most sustainable technologies available…as evidenced by our commitment to zero-emission, battery-powered equipment, green solar power, and the adoption of the safest possible tailings method utilising dry-stack technology," she added.
Ivanhoe is working on detailed engineering studies for Platreef's initial 700,000 tonne per annum mine and concentrator.
It is targeting the June quarter for earthworks to begin for the concentrator plant, while civil works and ordering of long-lead equipment will take place in the second half of 2022.
Phase 1's average annual production will be 113,000 ounces of platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold, as well as 5 million pounds of nickel and 3 million pounds of copper.
Shaft 2 headframe construction will be completed later this month, and will be equipped for hoisting in 2027.