Mimosa expects 10% dump recovery rate

Platinum miner Mimosa Mining Company (Mimosa) expects a 10% recovery rate from re-treating its 1,1 million tonne ore dump, management said during a tour of the company’s Zvishavane mine recently.

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

Although Mimosa management could not be drawn to specify the timeframe in which the process would be undertaken, an official said pre-testing of the dump, which were last worked in  2001 and are located near the ground-processing plant, were expected to yield a 10%  platinum recovery rate.

The dump is said to be too close to the processing plant and stands in the way of expansion.

“There is another dump which is almost the same size as this one and about 40 years old now and it will also be re-treated because in the past we did not have good technology, so our extraction capacity was not as high as now,” the official said.

The old dump is anticipated to be rich in other minerals as old mine owners were mostly extracting nickel.

According to figures obtained during the tour, 97% of what would have been mined was waste and only 3% contained  minerals.

Mimosa CEO Winston Chitando said the mine plans to lift annual platinum production to 204 000 ounces at the end of 2013, compared to 202 000 ounces at the end of 2012.

He said 100 000 ounces of the projected production in the current financial year was expected to be platinum.

The mine lost production for six weeks after an underground fire in May, but it is now operating at full capacity.

During the tour, officials said 7 400 tonnes of ore were processed daily on a 24-hour shift.

“There will be a slight increase,” Chitando said, adding the cost curve continued to exert pressure on operations.

In September, Chitando said Mimosa planned to cut down on production costs to cushion operations.

Since the Eurozone debt crisis, platinum prices have hit an all-time low of between US$1 375 and US$1 475 an ounce, with leading metals research firm  Johnson Matthey reporting prices remained depressed at an average of US$1 400 in August.Chitando said the country’s second largest platinum producer was focusing on improving efficiencies to beat the price woes.

“The strategy is to manage costs. Because you can’t control the price,  costs are the only thing that you can manage,” he said.
“To manage costs, you do it by increasing production and you then try and be innovative around fixed costs.”

In the full year to June  Mimosa recorded a 44% increase in PGM production to 210  895 ounces and a 1% growth in processed volumes to 2,3 million tonnes. Mining cash costs increased by 12% to US$70 per tonne while PGM ounce costs  increased by 11% to US$769.