Heaps of platinum ore ahead of the concentration process. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Heaps of platinum ore ahead of the concentration process. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

After nearly five years of an operational hiatus, Eastern Platinum (Eastplats) is talking of mining tailings at its long-suspended Crocodile River mine near Brits, entering an agreement with little-known Union Goal Offshore Solution to start the project in 2018.

Eastplats, which is listed in Toronto and Johannesburg, has been through a torrid time since suspending its Crocodile River mine in 2013, with on-again, off-again deals with Chinese buyers of assets that failed to materialise, a board coup and legal action.

However, in the first tangible sign that the new board is intent on bringing a cash-generating asset back into production at the moribund company, it has said in a notice to the JSE that it and its South African subsidiary Barplats had agreed to a funding and off-take deal with Hong Kong’s Union Goal to build a plant at Crocodile River in seven months’ time so as to start extracting chrome from the Zandfontein tailings.

A Hong Kong company directory website said Union Goal, which does not appear to have its own website, was incorporated in November 2017 and was a private company.

Eastplats said the partner company had been in business for 15 years and had traded a million tonnes of chrome in the past four years. It was also experienced in mining.

In terms of the agreement, valued at R164m, Union Goal "will finance and supply to Barplats the chrome processing circuit, related technology and know-how while Barplats will develop, mine and operate the retreatment project.

"Eastplats anticipates the retreatment project will result in revenue-producing operations, through off-take of the chrome concentrates produced to Union Goal, when production commences [operations] during 2018," the company said in a statement on Monday.