THE refurbishment of the $131 million Zimplats platinum refinery is on course with the first team of contractors expected to be at the site by the end of next month, an official has said.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
Government said this year that it would impose 15% vat for exports of unprocessed platinum. The development comes amid concerns that Treasury could be losing millions of dollars as mining companies were exporting unprocessed minerals.
Zimplats is refurbishing an old refining facility at its Selous complex, which is expected to be commissioned in July next year.
Zimplats head of corporate affairs Busi Chindove said a Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) was concluded in April last year and based on its results, the company embarked on a Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) in September 2014. Chindove said on the back of information from the BFS, the Zimplats Board approved commencement of the project and contractors will be on site by end June 2015.
“The projected cost for the BMR is approximately $131 million up from the original estimate of $100 million. The increase is associated with efforts to speed up the implementation of the project. The final design of engineering plans is underway as well as the procurement of long lead items and delivery of key equipment which is expected in October 2015,” Chindove said.
“Appointment of key contactors is already underway and we expect the first team of contractors will be on site by end June 2015. Hot commissioning of the refurbished BMR is targeted for July 2016.”
Chindove said the closure of Bimha Mine had created a 32% gap in ore supply on the Phase 2 design platform and in mitigation the company’s board approved mining of the South Pit at the company’s Ngezi operations in order to reduce the ore supply gap created by this unfortunate development.
Bimha Mine was closed as a precautionary measure to safeguard employees and assets in August 2014 following a ground collapse covering about 50% of the underground footprint.
“Excellent progress has been made with the project to date. Achievements are well ahead of anticipated targets. Ore production commenced ahead of schedule in April 2015 and will reach full production by August 2015,” Chindove said.
She said investigations and studies by internal and external experts were undertaken to fully understand the root cause of the ground collapse and establish the structural geological setting at Ngezi. Following a detailed risk assessment, the Board approved the new design and re-development of Bimha Mine works commenced in December 2014.
Chindove added that two mining fleets were deployed to re-establish reef access at Bimha.
“No significant further ground movements have been observed and management continues to closely monitor the situation. The re-development work is progressing very well with full production earmarked for July 2018,” she said.
“Meanwhile, development of Mupfuti Mine phase II expansion remains on schedule for completion in 2015.”
Chindove said Zimplats continued to invest in the upgrade of plant and machinery to enhance safety and productivity. Recently the company invested in the upgrade of slag granulation water pumps, granulation water monitoring and a platform extension at the Selous Metallurgical Complex at a total cost of $842 000. The upgrade included the extension and reconfiguration of the tapping platform towards a more open and safer working area for employees working in that area.
Zimplats profit dropped by 88% to $3,9 million from $32 million for the six months ended December 31 2014 due to a decline in sales volumes.
The company recorded a 12% decline in revenue to $233,5 million during the six months from $266 million. A decrease in platinum in converter matte sales volumes was recorded at 103 092 ounces from 113 876 ounces amid lower metal prices.
The company is expected to begin open pit mining to supplement ore supply to the processing operations.
The company said total operating costs excluding the Bimha write off decreased by 7% to $206,3 million, mainly owing to lower production.
Cash operating cost per platinum ounce produced increased by 10% to $1,481 due to the impact of lower production volumes on fixed costs.