SouthernEra ups its stake in Messina

SouthernEra Resources (SUF-T) has exchanged more than 10.5 million of its shares for 3.7 million shares in Johannesburg-listed platinum miner Messina.

The shares involved represent 12.4% of SouthernEra’s and 18.4% of Messina’s issued and outstanding shares. In the end, the deal boosts SouthernEra’s stake in Messina to 91.5%. The shares issued by SouthernEra are subject to a hold period of one year.

The equity dilution resulting from the transaction is more than offset by the increase in ownership of Messina, says SouthernEra CEO Patrick Evans.

Messina owns the Voorspoed, Doornvlei and Zebediela sections of the Greater Messina platinum project in South Africa’s Bushveld complex. Measured resources at Greater Messina total 26.3 million tonnes grading 5.4 grams platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium plus gold (PGEs plus gold). An additional 66.6 million tonnes running 5.05 grams PGEs plus gold are classified as the indicated resources. The inferred category is home to another 32.53 million tonnes averaging 5.4 grams PGEs plus gold.

Messina’s first of three planned mines, at the phase 1 Voorspoed section, is about half-way to full production. At full steam, the Voorspoed complex is expected to mine 120,000 tonnes of ore per month, resulting in the annual production of around 200,000 oz. PGEs plus gold.

The company has been issued a mining licence for the Doornvlei section. In mid-2002, SouthernEra and black economic empowerment partner Mvelaphanda Resources were granted the rights to the Dwaalkop section of Greater Messina. A feasibility study considering the joint development of the Doornvlei and Dwaalkop sections is slated for release in the third quarter; the results of a scoping study of the Zebediela section are also expected at that time.

Earlier this year, with the price of platinum at heights not seen in more than 20 years, SouthernEra said it was considering splitting its platinum and diamond holdings into two separately listed companies (T.N.M., April 19-25/04).

SouthernEra’s PGE portfolio also includes the Millennium platinum project, on the southeastern lobe of the Bushveld complex, in Mpumalanga province. The project is home to an indicated resource of 30.6 million tonnes grading 3.76 grams PGEs plus gold for around 3.7 million contained ounces.

The company’s key diamond asset is a half-stake in the Klipspringer mine in Limpopo province. Mining there is slated to resume once the rand depreciates. De Beers Consolidated Mines, the diamond unit of Anglo American (AAUK-Q), and an affiliated black-empowerment company, Naka Diamond Mining, own the remaining interest in Klipspringer.

SouthernEra also has diamond exploration projects in Angola, Canada, South Africa, Gabon, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Australia.


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