JOHANNESBURG (Business Day) -- Platinum junior African Platinum (Afplats) [AIM:APP] was well placed to achieve its immediate goal of developing the first phase of its flagship Leeuwkop project on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, Afplats chairman Charles Hansard said in the group's latest annual report.
The Leeuwkop project is located adjacent to platinum miner Lonmin's Eastern Platinum mine, east of Rustenburg.
The company, which is proceeding to complete the Leeuwkop bankable feasibility study, has $25 million in cash and no debt. It has exploration rights over potential platinum group metals in Botswana, Mozambique and in Zimbabwe.
The first phase of the planned Leeuwkop operation will see it producing 300,000 ounces of metal concentrate a year during the expected mine life of 20 years.
"We expect that the current 50-million ounces resource will be significantly increased by continuing exploration, but even at its present size, the resource is a substantial one, which will support Leeuwkop as a stand-alone producer," Hansard said.
A recent highlight for Afplats was being granted a prospecting right for the Inkosi property, close to the Leeuwkop project.
Afplats is listed on London's Alternative Investment Market and has made an initial filing for a secondary listing on the American Stock Exchange.
"The company's objective of controlling a resource base of more than 100-million ounces on the Bushveld Complex has been made attainable by the exploration results from Imbasa and the acquisition of the Inkosi prospecting right," Hansard said.
"It has also advanced significantly towards its aim of defining an ore body that is capable of producing 1-million ounces of metal a year."
Afplats' greater Leeuwkop project area has a sufficient strike length to eventually accommodate three shaft systems all exploiting the deposit at the same depth and with a potential life of about 50 years.
Afplats CE Roy Pitchford said in terms of black economic empowerment participation, Afplats had entered into a prospecting contract with the Bakwena Ba-Ga Magopa tribe regarding the Leeuwkop project.
Pitchford said that a joint-venture agreement would be implemented with the Bakwena Ba-Ga Magopa once the bankable feasibility study has been completed.
The Bakwena Ba-Ga Magopa have the right to fund and own as much as 50% of the Leeuwkop mining operation.
The company's main investors are CGT Management (13.85%), North South Capital (8.84%), and Bearn Stearns Asset Management (4.35%).
For the year ended in March this year, Afplats reported a loss of lb1,748 million, against lb488,000 in the same period last year.