Platinum production up

via Platinum production up – The Zimbabwe Independent November 1, 2013 by Taurai Mangudhla

ZIMBABWE’S platinum production went up 19,6% in the first nine months of 2013 to 9 838,61 kg compared to 8 224,35kg in the same period last year, after key expansion projects took off.

According to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) latest report for the period to September 2013, production of the white metal fetched US$424,6 million in the period under review, 17,5% more than the US$361,5 million recorded in the comparative period last year.

The country’s platinum output is expected to increase in the current year following largest platinum producer Zimplats’ commissioning of its phase two expansion project, which will add 90 000 ounces of the metal to the company’s annual production, raising annual national output to 430 000 ounces.

Zimplats earlier this year said production numbers would grow by 30% after the new plant phase was commissioned, from the previous figures of 180 000 platinum ounces a year, 145 000 palladium ounces , 20 000 gold ounces , 16 000 ounces of rhodium.

At 430 000 tonnes a year, the gross national platinum output from Zimbabwe’s three major platinum producers — Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa mines — falls short of the 500 000 ounces per year which the industry says is required to support the setting up of a smelter locally. Last year, the three mines produced a combined 340 000 ounces of platinum.

Government has been insisting that minerals such as platinum should be value- added locally through processes such as smelting, instead of the country exporting raw ore to overseas markets where it is then further processed.

Leading international metals research firm Johnson Mathey Plc said in June Zimbabwe would benefit from reduced platinum production in South Africa owing to labour unrest in that country’s mining industry. The country also expected increased capacity utilisation at Mimosa, which produced 108 000 ounces last year.

“Anglo American’s Unki Mine has recorded a swift ramp-up to full production levels. In 2012, the mill processed 1,54 million tonnes of ore, up 20% compared to the previous year,” read part of the Johnson Mathey report.

The CoMZ September report shows gold remains the country’s main contributor to mining revenue despite production falling by 17,4% in the nine months of 2013 to September due to low international prices.

Gold contributed US$483, 03 million out of a combined US$1 402 billion worth of minerals income generated in the nine months, down from 11 139,55kg valued at $585 007 million in the nine months of 2012.

Chrome production stood at 218 355 tonnes valued at US$23 172 075,00 for the period, while 7 576,62kg of palladium worth US$153 344 142,52 was produced in the nine months under review.

In the first half of the year, according to CoMZ, mineral production value tumbled 17,8% to US$930,9 million, compared to US$1 133 billion in the previous comparative period, owing to softening international prices and an unstable operating environment.

CoMZ statistics for the period to June 2013 show the country’s aggregated mineral value shed US$202 million after underperformance of the gold and platinum sector.

According to CoMZ figures, gold production for the period slid 21,7% to 6 727,36kg compared to 8 593,3kg in the first half of 2012. In value terms, gold production fetched US$325,8 million compared to US$448,9 million prior year.

Platinum production for the six months was almost flat in terms of value at US$291 million in the first six months of 2013 compared to US$285 million last year, while volumes stood at 6 599,49 kg and 6 469,50 kg in the first six months of 2012 and 2013 respectively.

CoMZ forecasted the mining industry to grow by 17, 1% this year, compared to 10,1% last year.