Zimplats to engage Zesa over power supply

HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest platinum producer Zimplats plans to engage national power utility Zesa Holdings as part of efforts to secure reliable electricity supply ahead of its planned expansion.

The miner — 87 percent owned by South Africa-based Impala Platinum Holdings — intends to increase production and set up a $100 million platinum refinery.

It targets a total production of 241 000 ounces this year before reaching 255 000 ounces in 2015.

Upon completion of its phase two expansion project in 2019, Zimplats will have a capacity to produce 270 000 ounces of platinum per annum.

“Currently we are using 82 megawatts (MW) to sustain production but in future we will require a total of 106 MW of uninterrupted electricity supply. We will be engaging Zesa for deliberations on this matter,” said Zimplats’ chief operating officer Stanley Segula last week.

According to Platinum Producers Association of Zimbabwe (PPAZ), miners need dependable power supply in order to fully realise the benefits of a platinum refinery.

However, Zimbabwe is currently grappling an acute power shortage, generating around

1 300MW against a peak demand of approximately 2 200 MW.

Imports are not adequate to cover the deficit.

This comes on the back of escalated efforts by government to have platinum processed locally with President Robert Mugabe recently threatening to ban exports of the metal in raw form.

Meanwhile, Segula said Implats’ technical experts were currently in the country to ensure that the refinery project kicks off in July.

He said the project should be completed within two years.

“Zimplats has made a decision to go ahead and establish a refinery,” he said.

He said to date, the group had spent $396 million out of the $496 million outlay on establishing a new mine and enhancing operations under a phase two expansion plan.

The group targets to create replacement tonnage for two mines set to be shut down when their life span lapses in 2020, as well as establishing beneficiation facilities.

“Work is underway to complete a bankable feasibility study for Portal Five mine. We are taking this project (for ratification) to the board meeting in August (2014),” he said.

He added that they were looking at upgrading the refinery with new technology so that they add value to the platinum matte in order to produce platinum group metals (PGMs) while also churning out base metals such as nickel.

Zimplats operates the Ngezi mine while it also runs Mimosa, a 50-50 joint venture with Aquarius.

Its plans to establish the refinery comes as government has ordered platinum producers to jointly construct the facility, with President

Robert Mugabe threatening to ban exports of the metal in raw form.

According to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, to increase production to 500 000 ounces per annum — required for the operation of the refinery — there is need for investment of approximately $2,8 billion in mines, $2 billion in processing plants and between $200 and $500 million to ensure adequate power supply.

 

 

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