The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Zimplats to Open U.S.$470 Mine

MINING company Zimplats has earmarked US$469 million for the opening of a new mine, an official has said. It will be the fifth mine to be operated by the country's largest platinum company. Zimplats currently operates four mines namely Mupfuti, Rukodzi, Bimha and Ngwarati and the opening of a new mine is set to replace Rukodzi mine, which is now too expensive to operate. The new mine would be called Portal Five mine.

The mining company has since improved from the 4,2 million tonnes of ore milled per annum to reach the maximum of 6,2 million tonnes per annum, recording a two million-tonne growth and the phase two concentrator has already achieved design capacity.

Zimplats chief executive Mr Alex Mhembere said the company is set to embark on a drive to explore new mining claims in the area to try and increase capacity utilisation as well as expand the business.

"For 2014 we are going to maintain the standards rather than grow the business. At present the opening of a new mine is the major project that we are going to undertake and as you know phase two is nearing completion."

"All the explorations of the new mine have already been done and it is now left to the executive to work out ways on how to come up with adequate capital so that the project starts," he said.

General manager operations Mr Louis Mabiza said the mine will use the concentrator currently being used by Rukodzi mine to minimise costs.

"We have completed exploration stage and we are still evaluating the actual figures the mine will cost but the amounts will be in the category of the current phase two project which cost over US$460 million," he said.

Zimplats is currently producing 180 000 platinum ounces, 145 000 palladium ounces, 16 000 ounces of rhodium and 20 000 gold ounces a year.

Mhembere noted that players in the platinum industry together with Government need to ensure the issue of setting up a refinery plant be of significant value in order to achieve huge benefits as a country.

Mr Mhembere said despite the presence of liquidity challenges they are going to come up with initiatives that emphasise value addition as well as employment creation to the locals.

He said liquidity has affected the whole industrial sector, and he hopes that the financial sector and the Government will come up with solutions that will make the mining sector viable again.

Mr Mhembere added that Zimplats has so far deposited US$6,6 million out of the pledged US$10 million into the Trust accounts as part of the community share ownership trust.

Zimplats is in the process of completing phase two of its project that is set to be commissioned in 2015.

Zimplats this year recorded a 48 percent growth in production capacity after the commissioning of a new phase two concentrator in April this year.

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