Mimosa abandons plans to build independent refinery in Zvishavane

Source: The Chronicle – Breaking news

Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura (in white shirt) being shown TSF4 under construction by Mr Ndiyamba

Patrick Chitumba, Patrick.chitumba@chronicle.co.zw

PLATINUM group metals producer, Mimosa Mining Company, is abandoning its plans for an independent refinery at its Zvishavane premises citing economic feasibility concerns.

Mimosa has since announced its decision to process concentrate at Zimplats’ base metal refinery starting next year.

Jointly owned by South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum, Mimosa operates on the southern portion of the Great Dyke near Zvishavane town.

While Mimosa is best known for producing platinum, the company actually mines 10 metals. It started as a nickel mine before switching to the platinum group metals as the market demands shifted. 

The 10 metals include rhodium, palladium, ruthenium, gold, silver, iridium, nickel, copper and cobalt.

Mimosa is yet to complete the construction of a new US$75 million Tailing Storage Facility 4 (TSF4), which comes with a water dam.

Tailings storage facilities are engineered structures designed to securely store by-products of the mining process, reducing environmental impact and ensuring the safe disposal of waste materials.

The TSF4 — which is a cutting-edge infrastructure, is now at 90 percent completion and is poised for commissioning in April next year.

After ore has been processed to remove mineral concentrates, the leftover waste known as tailings is normally held in a TSF4.

In an interview recently, Mimosa’s general manager, Mr Stephen Ndiyamba said after feasibility studies, the construction of a local refinery plant at the Zvishavane site was deemed economically unviable. 

“We are abandoning plans for an independent refinery due to economic feasibility concerns. Our concentrate will be processed at Zimplats’ base metal refinery starting next year,” he said.

Mr Ndiyamba said that move will also save the company in terms of time and transport logistics as they have been sending concentrate for processing to South Africa.

“We are talking of mineral beneficiation to benefit the country. We have been sending concentrate to South Africa and this move will cut on other expenses,” he said.

Mr Ndiyamba said Mimosa is committed to local beneficiation in alignment with Government’s policy. 

The move coincides with Zimplats’ board approval for a US$200 million refurbishment of its mothballed base metal refinery (BMR) at the Selous Metallurgical Complex. 

This strategic investment is part of Zimplats’ broader capital plan of US$1,8 billion over a 10-year period from 2021.

Mineral beneficiation aligns with the Government’s target of achieving a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023. 

Beneficiation of raw minerals would foster the creation of downstream labour intensive industries which would use the mineral products as raw materials.

“Beneficiation would create backward and forward linkages which are interdependent compared to the situation where only the extraction industry is developing,” said Mr Ndiyamba.

The Chamber of Mines’ State of Mining Industry Survey Report for 2024 revealed that PGM producers, including Mimosa, have formalised commitments with Zimplats to consolidate this arrangement.