Ye Olde Platinum Prospecting

A lot of press this week about bad news for platinum miners. Electricity supply in top-producer South Africa is running tight. And the labor unrest that’s already stalled a few mines is again threatening to spread.

Against such a back drop, it would appear the world’s platinum miners are looking for new ideas. Some of them looking very far afield.

That’s the suggestion from local media reports in North Ireland. Which note major platinum producer Lonmin has applied for prospecting licenses in this out-of-the-way locale.

Lonmin has reportedly filed applications with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for a “large” stretch of ground on the far northeastern tip of Northern Ireland. Near the town of Larne.

The permits would allow the company to conduct rock and soil sampling over the area.

This is a very unexpected move for Lonmin, or any platinum developer for that matter. There has been a good deal of European platinum prospecting activity in spots like Scandinavia. But the U.K. is a spot that’s received little attention.

There’s no way to know yet what geological features are attracting Lonmin. But it may have to do with recent research on Northern Ireland that suggests some platinum potential here. As recently as 2012, academics from the University of Leicester published a paper titled “The character and provenance of sulphide occurrences in and beneath the Antrim Lava Group, Northern Ireland; implications for lode gold and PGE exploration”.

It’s always interesting when a new exploration area like this pops up. And platinum is such a unique metal–related to very discrete, restricted features–that a major new discovery in an unknown place is always a possibility.

This is a program to watch.

Here’s to new frontiers for a rare metal,

Dave Forest

dforest@piercepoints.com / @piercepoints / Facebook

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