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Oct 27, 2006

Independent engineering consultant selected for Pilansberg prefeasibility study

© Reuse this Engineering firm TWP Consulting has been appointed as the engineer for the prefeasibility study for Wesizwe Platinum’s Pilanesberg project in the Frischgewaad Ledig Complex. This comes in the wake of the successful completion of the independent engineer’s report and the commissioning of the prefeasibility study last week. According to Wesizwe CEO Mike Solomon, TWP has been selectedspecifically because of its extensive experience in shaft and infrastructure design in the platinum industry. To this extent, the company has been involved in Anglo Platinum and the Royal Bafokeng’s nearby BRPM operation, as well as the Styldrift project. More importantly, TWP is the consulting engineer for the Impala Shaft 20 project, which is the closest underground operation to Wesizwe’s property, and is of an almost identical configuration to that planned for Wesizwe’s Pilansberg project. In an interview with Mining Weekly, TWP CEO Nigel Town-shend explains that the com-pany has been involved in the Pilanesberg project for several years. “During this time, TWP has com- pleted the initial upfront engineering work and the conceptual mine design,” says Townshend. Although upfront engineering work and conceptual mine design are usually associated with the latter stages of a project, these were undertaken early in 2005 as part of Wesizwe’s reverse engineering approach to the project.

Solomon explains that the approach of reverse engineering was undertaken to ensure that the project is not constrained by the present engineering skills shortage and that the project will remain within the technical and commercial targets set in 2005. With the commissioning of the prefeasibility study, TWP’s role at this stage will be to undertake the engineering and management of the project. The prefeasibility study will be conducted on the outcome of the independent engineer’s report, which concluded that Wesizwe has the resources to sustain a mining opera-tion of 180 000 t/m, yielding some 360 000 oz of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold a year over a 25-year life-of-mine. The scope of the study will cover the technoeconomic factors that will impact on the exploitability of the established resource, which include structural geology, resource evaluation, appropriate mining method, appropriate shaft access, specification of metallurgical plant, surface infrastructure, concomitant capital costs, estimated operating costs, cash flow, and financial model- ling. It is anticipated that the results of the prefeasibility study will be released during the first quarter of 2007 and, provided the results prove positive, the prefeasibility team will move directly into a bankable feasibility study for the project. As the consulting firm has been involved in this project from the initial stages and has been responsible for the mine design, Townshend is optimistic that TWP will be involved through the remaining life of this project, provided that it is determined as being viable and attracts the necessary funding. Townshend concludes that, despite the skills shortage in the industry, the company is confident that it will meet the present obligations for all its projects. “TWP continues to be the employer of choice within the consulting engineering industry, which has been evidenced by the fact that the company was placed thirtieth out of hundreds of entries in the 2006 Deloitte and Financial Mail ‘Best company to work for’ survey.

“TWP, therefore, has fewer problems than most of its competitors in retaining and recruiting staff, and is completely confident that it will meet all its obligations in the Pilanesberg project.”
Edited by: Jade Davenport
Creamer Media Correspondent
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