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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: November 15th 2002


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:: Gold Fields Defers Platinum Project

Gold Fields plans to kick-start its debut as a precious metals company are on hold pending details on how it can best smelt concentrate from its Arctic Platinum Partnership, a joint venture with Scandanavian company, Outokumpu.

Gold Fields chief executive, Ian Cockerill, said that completion of the project study had been delayed owing to sub-optimal results that would be produced if conventional smelting methods, using Outokumpus energy efficient flash technology, had been applied.

Volatility in the palladium market added to the uncertainty. The replacement of palladium by nickel in the capacitor market, and the potential for an increase in metal recycling, leads us to believe that the palladium market could become soggy, Cockerill said in an interview with Mineweb. The Arctic Platinum Partnerships project was reliant for about half of its revenue from palladium.

As a result, the study has been broadened to include alternative downstream treatment options, leading to a delay in completion of the study, which had been slated for September 2002, he said. A further phase of work is already underway to assess these options to a greater degree of certainty, Cockerill added. This is a question of when it becomes a mine rather than if, Cockerill said on the long-term prospects of the platinum project. Clearly we would like growth on the platinum side but it would be incremental to gold."




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