Zimplats to modify collapsed mine

HARARE -  Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer Zimplats plans to construct two declines that enable access to an underground ore belt following the collapse of its Bimha Mine (Bimha).

The move is aimed at meeting the miner’s target to produce two million tonnes of platinum ore per annum.

However, its mining general manager Simbarashe Goto could not disclose the cost of the project.

He said work was already underway to ascertain the cost and the continuation of production.

“We will, in the next 15 months be working on declines around the collapsed area and a further 50 months to reconnect to current declines,” he said.

Goto said the collapse was “not really a major loss” since they had exhausted the ore in that area. Last week, Zimplats’ largest mine, Bimha, collapsed resulting in a 50 percent downscale of production, equating to 45 000 ounces of platinum.

The mine contributed 41 percent to Zimplats’ total production in 2013.

Market experts said although production has been downscaled, “there is still huge investor appetite for platinum”.

“The collapse of the mine was just an accident and has no direct relationship with the resource level of platinum in Zimbabwe, as such this will not affect investor confidence in Zimplats,” said a local bank analyst, who preferred anonymity. He said considering the volatility of the South African platinum sector, investors were still keen to engage the seemingly stable Zimbabwean market.

Alex Mhembere, Zimplats chief executive, said the collapse was triggered by the accelerated deterioration of ground conditions associated with a major shear, which transgresses through half of the mining area.

Over the past three years, the group — 87 percent owned by South Africa-based Impala Platinum Holdings — invested $6 million in dealing with the deteriorating ground conditions following a fault first detected in 2011.

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