ZIMBABWE’S largest platinum producer Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) has reported a 13% slump in output to 1,32 million tonnes (t) in the quarter ended September 30 2014 due to safety closures at its Bimha Mine in August, the group says.
In a first quarter production report by Zimplats’ 87% shareholder, Impala Platinum, the group said throughput declined due to disruptions caused by a collapse within a section of the underground working area at Bimha Mine which was triggered by the accelerated deterioration of ground conditions associated with the Mutambara Shear Mill.
Impala said as a result platinum in matte also fell 13% or by 8 000 ounces (oz) to 52 000 oz, compared to 60 000 oz in the prior corresponding period.
Zimplats produced 240 000 platinum oz in the 2014 financial year.
The group however said six out of the eight mining crews and their fleets at the Bimha Mine have been successfully redeployed at other mining operations to mitigate the production impact.
“Together with the ramp-up of the Phase 2 expansion project scheduled to reach full production during the second half of the financial year, platinum production is now only expected to be negatively impacted by 30 000 platinum ounces compared to the original guidance of 70 000 ounces for the financial year,” said Impala, adding that the re-engineering of mining operations and further production mitigation measures at the Bimha Mine are ongoing.
The group said capital expenditure in the first quarter amounted to US$87,5 million, down from US$114,3 million in the previous corresponding period. This was largely due to the restart of the major projects following the strike at Impala Rustenburg and the reduced spend at Zimplats as the Phase 2 expansion project nears completion.
Implats also said tonnes milled during the period at its 50% owned Zimbabwean mine, Mimosa Mining Company (Mimosa), increased by 4% to 636 000 t compared to 611 000 t in the prior corresponding period.
Implats said the increased throughput together with improved recoveries at the mine improved platinum production by 12% to 29 000 oz, compared to 26 000 oz in the prior corresponding period.