Sunday, December 16, 2018
Jianke Gao

Jianke Gao

Wesizwe Platinum

THE moment of truth is fast approaching for Wesizwe Platinum that, so far, has been minimally affected by the fallout from the grim platinum market because the mine is still under construction. But that grace period is being eliminated as sinking operations at the mine reached shaft bottom in December for the main and ventilation shafts. Some R2.5bn has been invested to date, but another R7.5bn must now be ploughed in over the next two years if the mine is to be commissioned by the end of 2018 with full production to follow in 2021. Funding has been provided through a $650m loan from the China Development Bank that will cover capital expenditure up to the second quarter of 2017. The development plan has been revised once so far to pull the expected full production date forward by two years. It remains to be seen what Gao will do if the platinum price stays at current low levels below $1,000/oz which could call into question the viability of the new mine. We are currently in a period where so-called bulletproof projects such as Royal Bafokeng’s Styldrift 1 expansion are being delayed, so it seems Gao could have some tough decisions to make in the year ahead.

LIFE OF JIANKE

He was the GM Assistant of the Jinchuan group in China with more than 27 years technical mining and management experience before he was appointed CEO of Wesizwe in May 2011. Gao holds a Bachelor’s degree in mining from the Central-South Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. He was appointed GM Assistant at Jinchuan in 2009 and, before that, served as the mine manager for Mining Zone 2 of the Jinchuan group for six years.