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Zimplats commits US$1m to exploration

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THE local unit of South Africa-headquartered Impala Platinum says it will spend over US$1 million on exploration as the company seeks to increase output.

BERNARD MPOFU

Zimbabwe has one of the largest known platinum reserves in the world alongside neighbouring South Africa and Russia. The white metal is mainly used in the automotive industry for manufacturing catalytic converters which are vital in reducing carbon emissions.

In its trading update for the quarter ending 30 June, Zimplats Holdings Limited (Zimplats) said mined tonnage increased by 9% quarter-on-quarter and 4% year-on-year following the full recovery of Mupfuti Mine from the effects of lower trackless mining equipment availability.

Milled tonnes increased by 4% from 1 706 671 tonnes to 1 769 270 tonnes compared to the prior quarter due to an increase in the number of operating days and improvement in the milling rate.

“A total of US$0.5 million was spent on exploration projects, with a further US$0.7 million committed as at 30 June 2022,” Zimplats says.

“Exploration activities included mineral resource evaluation, comprising approximately 2 190 metres of surface diamond drilling over existing projects on the two mining leases. Exploration activities increased geological and geotechnical confidence in production schedules.

“The development of Mupani Mine and upgrade of Bimha Mine to replace Rukodzi, Ngwarati, and Mupfuti mines, which will be depleted in FY [full-year] 2022, FY2025, and FY2028 respectively, progressed well during the quarter.”

The company says a total of US$228 million had been spent on the project to date and US$81 million had been committed against a project budget of US$468 million. The Third Concentrator Plant which will increase milling capacity by 0.9 million tonnes per year (equivalent to about 80 000 6E ounces) is on course for commissioning in August 2022.

“Cumulative project expenditure as at the end of the quarter amounted to US$79 million with US$14 million committed against a project budget of US$94 million. Implementation

of the US$521 million smelter expansion and SO2 abatement plant project which commenced in the previous quarter is on course,” the company says.

The project consists of the construction of a 38-megawatt (MW) furnace and establishment of an acid plant for the abatement of sulphur dioxide generated by the smelter operations. A total of US$19 million had been spent on the project and US$218 million committed as at the end of the quarter.

Procurement processes for the US$37 million Phase 1 implementation of the 185MW solar project, the company said, commenced during the quarter under review. Phase 1 is a 35MW plant at Selous Metallurgical Complex scheduled for completion in FY2024. Overall, the project has four implementation phases, with the last phase scheduled for completion in FY2027 at a total project cost estimate of US$201 million.

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