ASX- and JSE-listed Southern Palladium finds in a scoping study that the Bengwenyama platinum group metals (PGMs) project, in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa, has the potential for a 26-year mine life.
The company also finds that the project will have a consistent and uniform grade being fed to the plant, meaning there will be a lower need for grade blending.
However, once the operation progresses to the mining stage, ongoing underground reef chip sampling will be carried out. This systematic process will be employed for grade management, aligning with the common practice observed in South African tabular orebodies.
Southern Palladum is advancing a prefeasibility study on the project, which currently has a mineral resource of 26-million ounces within two ore horizons – Upper Group Two (UG2) chromitite and Merensky reef.
The company explains its confidence in the geological model and the continuity of the mineralisation reefs on the site is rooted in the fact that the UG2 and Merensky reefs are two reef horizons that are continuous over large areas – as demonstrated by the current mining operations that span from Bokoni mine, which is north of Bengwenyama, to the Booysendal operations, to the south of the project, which is about 200 km apart.
The Bengwenyama project also borders two operating mines – Modikwa and Marula.
Further south, the Two Rivers, Mototolo and Booysendal operations mine the same reefs in the Southern Block.
Additionally, the neighbouring properties also have known UG2 mineral resources to the east in the Grootboom area and immediately south, in Kennedy's Vale.
“Therefore, there is no doubt in the continuity of the UG2 across the two farms Eerstegeluk and Nooitverwacht. Hence, there is high confidence in the exploration target that has been modelled and forms part of the scoping study life-of-mine,” the company states.
Southern Palladium’s ongoing drilling programme is focused on upgrading the mineral resource from inferred to indicated status.
Based on recent mineral resource conversions on the project with recent drilling, it is anticipated that the conversion will be close to 100%.
The Bushveld Complex chromitite reefs are very homogenous in the grade distribution compared with other deposits. This is evident from the grades estimated, to date, for the Bengwenyama project.
The initial grade, modelled from ten historical drillholes, was 7.70 g/t of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (4E) PGMs over a reef width of 71 cm. The first resource update had a similar grade and width, while the latest mineral resource showed a grade of 7.95 g/t 4E PGMs over a width of 73 cm.
This illustrates the grade consistency and proves the entire resource is above the reasonable prospects of eventual economic extraction pay limit of 1.9 g/t, Southern Palladium points out.
The Kriged estimation model shows that the lowest grade is about 5.8 g/t and that the grade distribution across the three categories is very similar.
In addition to this, the metallurgical sample that was submitted, which was a composite of several intersections across the reef horizon, had a head grade of 7.95 g/t, which is the same grade as the estimated mineral resource grade.