The Panton Project is adjacent to the Great Northern Highway, 60 kilometres north of Halls Creek in the Kimberly region of WA. Owned by Platinum Australia, the project is secured by three granted mining leases.
Platinum Australia completed a bankable-level feasibility study on the project in August 2003. The study showed that the project was technically sound but not commercially viable at the prevailing metal prices and US$ exchange rate. The palladium price in particular fell from more than US$600 per ounce to less than US$200 per ounce during the study.
The current prices for platinum, palladium, gold, nickel and copper, the major metals which would be produced at the Panton Project, are between 250 per cent and 500 per cent higher than those used in the bankable feasibility study.
Platinum Australia has therefore initiated a review of the Panton Project, and believed the project held the potential to be commercially viable based on current metal prices.
The mining study for Panton, as completed by AMC Consultants, envisaged an initial development of an open- pit mine followed by the sequential development of two underground mines. The mining rate would be about 600,000 tonnes per annum, with a mine life dependent on metal prices and the US$ exchange rate. The underground mining operation would be developed as two separate mines accessed through independent declines. The A mine accessing the A and B sub-blocks would be developed first, followed by the C mine which would access the BC and C sub- blocks. Mining would be mechanised using a long hole, up-hole stoping method.
The Study envisaged the processing of ore at a rate of 600,000tpa at an average head grade of 5.5 grams per tonne and a recovery rate of 79 per cent platinum/palladium/gold, producing an average of more than 80,000oz per annum in a high-grade concentrate.
The proposed plant would incorporate a standard crushing, grinding and flotation circuit to produce a low-grade concentrate that would then be treated on site.
The Panton intrusive is a layered, differentiated mafic to ultramafic body that has been intruded into the sediments of the Proterozoic Lamboo complex in the Kimberley. The Panton intrusive is a structurally complex body that has undergone several folding and faulting events that have resulted in a south-westerly plunging synclinal structure, about 10km long and 3km wide.
Feasibility study. Platinum Australia will continue to review and evaluate options for development of the Panton project.