HomeBusiness DigestZimbabwe raises platinum output, plans on trade

Zimbabwe raises platinum output, plans on trade

SOUTH African platinum producer Impala Platinum says output at its concerns in Zimbabwe rose in the first half of this year and that plans for further expansion at the mines are on track.

In an investor presentation posted on its

website and seen by Reuter yesterday, Implats said production at Zimplats, in which it has a majority shareholding, was at 45 000 ounces of refined platinum in the first half of 2006, up 15% over the same period last year.

Its Mimosa mine, Zimbabwe’s second largest platinum producer after Zimplats, accounted for 35 000 ounces of the metal in the first six months this year, compared to 28 000 ounces during the same period in 2005.

Implats jointly owns Mimosa with Aquarius Platinum.

The presentation said a transition to underground mining operations was underway at Zimplats with a feasibility study on expanding platinum output to 145 000 ounces per year to be submitted to the board.

The planned expansion of production at Mimosa to 80 000 ounces of platinum, compared to 61 000 ounces in 2005, was on track, and the mine had potential for a further increase to 130 000 ounces, it said.

In May, Mimosa’s managing director Alex Mhembere said the firm would start exploration for a new mine next year to complement its existing one, which has a lifespan of 20 years.

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-richest resources of platinum after South Africa, the biggest producer of the metal.

But the country’s mining sector was shaken after President Robert Mugabe’s government said earlier this year it planned to acquire a 51% stake in foreign-owned mines to advance its black empowerment programme.

However, Implats said last month Zimbabwe would give it credit for building roads and houses to count towards the local ownership rules, which analysts say could chase away much-needed foreign investment.

Implats also sealed a deal to get credits towards the requirements which have not yet come into law by giving up some unused mining claims in Zimbabwe.

This means only a modest equity stake would have to be transferred to the government or local investors. —  Reuter.

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