Zimplats discounts seizure threats

ZIMBABWE Platinum (Zimplats) this week discounted government threats of mine seizures, saying it was confident an amicable framework for empowerment in the mining sector could be worked out.

It its report for the first quarter to March 31, Zimplats said a bankable feasibil

ity study to increase underground mining production in line with existing furnace capacity had been completed and would be submitted to the Zimplats board for consideration this month.

“Good progress has been made on the portal two underground project, which is expected to be completed as scheduled this month and within project cost budget,” Zimplats said.

At the Ngezi platinum mine, Zimplats mined 303 000 tonnes in the March quarter, down from 431 000 tons in the December 2005 quarter due to a planned reduction in opencast tonnage and the difficult mining conditions caused by heavy rains in February.

Underground ore from the mine was 196 000 tons in the March quarter from 177 000 tonnes in the December quarter.

Mines minister Amos Midzi said in March that the country’s Mines and Minerals Act would be amended to allow the government to hold a 51% stake in all foreign-owned mines.

The announcement prompted Impala Platinum (Implats) chief executive Keith Rumble to seek a meeting with President Mugabe who assured him that Midzi’s announcement had not been formally adopted by cabinet.

Implats holds 87% of Zimplats shareholding.

Midzi has said of the 51% stake government would forcibly take from foreign mines, 25% would be non-contributory and the balance by way of contribution over an unspecified period.

Zimplats posted an operating profit of US$17,231 million during the first quarter, from $13 565 million in the December 2005 quarter.

Revenue for the March quarter was $41 043 million, up from $38 376 million in the December quarter.

Metal sales of platinum, palladium, gold and rhodium totalled 46 048 ounces during the March quarter, up from 45 533 ounces in the previous quarter.

Zimplats achieved an average platinum price of US$1 038 per ounce during the period, from $959 in the December quarter. — Staff Writer.