Zimplats shuts Bimha Mine

HARARE - Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer, Zimplats, could lose up to $100 million following the closure of its Bimha Mine.

Alex Mhembere, chief executive of the Australia Stock Exchange-listed firm yesterday said the mine, which collapsed last month, would be indefinitely shut down “in order to safeguard the safety of underground personnel and equipment”.

“A team of company and independent advisors has been appointed to conduct detailed investigations to re-engineer and arrest the current mine stability concerns at the Bimha Mine,” he said. Zimplats, which is 87 percent owned by South African Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats), will likely lose as much as 70 000 platinum ounces in the year through June 2015, or 4,4 percent of output in the 2013 fiscal period, through the closure of the Bimha Mine.

At the current spot platinum price of $1,427 per ounce, the closure would cost the company close to $100 million in lost production. A collapse within a section of the underground working area of Bimha Mine last month was triggered by the accelerated deterioration of ground conditions associated with a major fault, the Mutambara Shear, which transgresses through the mining area.

Mhembere however, noted that over recent weeks, ground conditions have continued to deteriorate and, “as a consequence, it has been decided to withdraw employees in high-risk areas with immediate effect and to implement orderly closure procedures across the rest of the mine”.

The Zimplats boss said production from the other three mines is not expected to be affected and the ramp-up of Mupfuti Mine continues as planned.

“In addition two mining fleets from the Bimha Mine have already been deployed to the other mines to mitigate production losses,” he said.

Zimplats — which produced 240 000 platinum ounces in the 2014 financial year — drew rare praise from the Zanu PF-led government for the way it handled the collapse of a fault known as the Mutambara shear.

The fault weaves its way in a rolling horizontal sheet through a major part of the workings at Bimha, the largest of the miner’s four mines.

On a map the shear zone looks like a giant manta ray lying on the deposit, straddling a large mined-out area as well as a sizeable portion of the twin-decline access and ore-
hauling tunnels that descend from the surface into the depths of the mine.

The area that collapsed is roughly in the centre of that zone and largely covers mined-out areas either side of the declines.

The platinum mining giant withdrew about 150 people and their machines from the mechanised mine weeks ahead of the collapse.

It shut down a decline tunnel and the worked-out areas in the deeper portion of the mine, with nobody hurt or equipment lost.

Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa in July congratulated Zimplats management and shareholders for expertly managing the potentially catastrophic incident at the Bimha Mine without any
loss of life or injuries.

“When a major mining disaster strikes and several lives are lost, the world jumps and condemns,” he said.

“However, when a major mining incident strikes and no lives are lost or injuries incurred as has happened at Zimplats, the world does not take notice,” said Chidhakwa.

Comments (8)

Kana mhuri yako ichidya ichiguta munharaunda, pple leave you alone..but kana vana vako vachikwangwaya, kupemha, zvigamba nekusaenda chikoro...dunhu rinoti kanha nazvo, some condemn you! Ndizvo zvinoitika muupenyu. I dont see what this Grace relative minister is on about. Just congratulate Zimplats and leave the world out of it! nxa! kuri kuda world attenstion here?

Madzibaba Boarder - 22 August 2014

Kana mhuri yako ichidya ichiguta munharaunda, pple leave you alone..but kana vana vako vachikwangwaya, kupemha, zvigamba nekusaenda chikoro...dunhu rinoti kanha nazvo, some condemn you! Ndizvo zvinoitika muupenyu. I dont see what this Grace relative minister is on about. Just congratulate Zimplats and leave the world out of it! nxa! kuri kuda world attenstion here?

Madzibaba Boarder - 22 August 2014

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