Miner Tharisa aims to produce its own high-value platinum group metals (PGMs) within the next five years, unshackling itself from an offtake agreement and realising a 17 percentage point improvement in the prices it will receive. Tharisa, which mines PGMs and chrome near Brits in North West, is testing its furnace technology to produce a PGM-rich iron alloy and will conduct further work on a hydrometallurgical process to generate a concentrate that will sell for 97% of the value of the metal it contains.

Existing offtake agreements with major producers like Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin — the only companies with smelting and refining plants in SA’s PGM industry — pay about 80% of the value of the metal to smaller companies. Tharisa has made impressive inroads into SA’s chrome and PGM industries, rising to fourth and seventh-largest in just a few years from its single mine. Now that it is on track to reach its 2020 goals of 2-million tons of chrome a year ...

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