We will not borrow: Zimplats

HARARE - Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats)’ Zimbabwean unit Zimplats says it will not borrow to bankroll the resuscitation of its collapsed Bimha Mine (Bimha), but use internal funds.

In mid-July, Bimha — the largest of Zimplats’ four mines — collapsed, affecting nearly 50 percent of the mine’s current mining footprint.

Zimplats, Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer, plans to modify the mine to access the unaffected areas.

Its chief executive Alex Mhembere said the group, “will require funding” for the modification process, but ruled out borrowing.

“We will not borrow, but finance it internally,” he said during Zimplats’ fourth quarter financials briefing last week.

He, however, could not disclose the cost.

“It is too early to give a figure. We are still assessing the cost,” said Mhembere, adding that the collapse affected four of eight production shifts.

Zimplats employs a total of6 000 people both on the surface and underground.

Due to the mine collapse, Mhembere projected a production loss of 9,5 percent in the 2015 financial year and three percent in ensuing years.

He said production at Bimha, which contributed 41 percent to Zimplats’ total production in 2013, would be 50 percent lower, equating to 45 000 ounces of platinum.

The collapse was triggered by accelerated deterioration of ground conditions associated with a major shear, which transgresses through half of the mining area.

Over the past three years, Zimplats — 87 percent owned by Implats — invested $6 million in dealing with the deteriorating ground conditions following a fault first detected in 2011.
Under Bimha’s resuscitation exercise, two declines that enable access to an underground ore belt will be constructed.

During a recent tour of Bimha Mine, Zimplats’ mining general manager Simbarashe Goto 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.

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