PTM sees off Africa Wide challenge that R1bn sale of Maseve was without consent

PLATINUM Group Metals (PTM) has seen off a second legal challenge brought against it by Africa Wide Mineral Prospecting and Exploration (Africa Wide), a subsidiary of Wesizwe Platinum, PTM’s former black economic empowerment partner.

The Toronto-listed firm said South Africa’s High Court had earlier this week dismissed a claim brought by Africa Wide seeking to set aside the sale of the Maseve mine and infrastructure to Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat).

Africa Wide contended in 2018 that PTM had sold the mine without its consent. However, the High Court said Africa Wide had failed to make its case for the claim, and that a period of time allowed for such a claim had elapsed prior to its starting legal proceedings.

In 2014, Africa Wide failed in a bid to stop the dilution of its stake in Maseve which occurred after it declined to follow its rights in a capital raising exercise instituted by PTM. The Maseve mine was eventually mothballed and sold to RBPlat in April 2019 for R1bn.

“We are very satisfied to receive the judgment of the High Court in this matter,” said Frank Hallam, CEO of PTM of this week’s development.

“This is the second formal dispute we have been subjected to by Africa Wide, and we are once again comforted by the fair, methodical and just functioning of the South African judicial system,” he said.

Hallam added that PTM would continue to focus on the development of its proposed Waterberg Project in South Africa’s Limpopo province. Hallam told Miningmx in March that the group was investigating building its own smelting and refining facilities following a breakdown in discussions with Impala Platinum (Implats).

A prefeasibility study on a furnace and converter technology for platinum group metals (PGMs) mined at PTM’s proposed 600,000 ounce a year Waterberg Project will be completed in about a year, said Hallam.

Implats, which owns a 15% stake in Waterberg Project, chose not to exercise an option to take a 50.1% stake in Waterberg Project, saying it preferred to allocate capital to improved dividends.

“We will move forward on our own,” said Hallam in reponse in a March interview. “The joint venture is more than 50% owned by shareholders who want to see the project developed. We don’t begrudge Implats; we would love to have them [actively involved]. But if they don’t want to, that’s also okay.”