Platinum earnings down 11pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's platinum earnings slumped 11 percent to $495 million last year from $554 million realised in 2013 due to depressed global platinum prices, latest Chamber of Mines (CoM) figures reveal.

The report also noted that total platinum production during 2014 declined by 4,5 percent to 440 289,59 ounces from 460 854,31 ounces in 2013 partly due to the collapse of the country’s largest platinum producer Zimplats’ Bimha Mine in July last year.

The platinum miner — 87 percent owned by South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) — admitted that disruptions caused by the Bimha collapse resulted in lower production volumes.

Last year Zimplats achieved 239 660 platinum ounces and the closure of Bimha at the time was adversely estimated to affect total production by up to 70 000 platinum ounces.

In 2013 Bimha contributed 41 percent to Zimplats’ total production.

Zimbabwe has three platinum operations of which Implats controls Zimplats while it also runs Zvishavane-based Mimosa mine in a 50-50 joint venture with Aquarius.

The third platinum mine, Unki, is operated by Anglo Platinum.

Meanwhile, in the year to December 2014 Zimbabwe’s total value of mineral output declined by six percent to $1,85 billion from $1,97 billion despite an increase in output in key minerals such as gold.

Gold registered a production increase to 15 385 kg from 14 065 kg but earnings declined to $615,7 million from $626 million recorded in prior period.

This comes as escalating production costs, limited access to long-term capital and depressed gold prices due to subdued demand continue to threaten gold mining industry’s viability.

Nickel production increased to 16 632 tonnes valued at $202,4 million compared to last year’s production of 14 057 tonnes worth $158 million.

In the period under review, coal production fell drastically to 2, 74 million tonnes from 4,98 million tonnes achieved in prior period.

The value of coal also declined to $41,2 million from $171,4 million in prior year.

Coal remains a dominant energy mineral and the country boasts of vast reserves of coal particularly in the north-west and southern parts of the country.

Copper production remained almost flat at 8 261 tonnes compared with 8 274 tonnes while its value declined to $39,9 million from $44,2 million in prior year.

Palladium earnings increased to $228 million from $205 million as production remained flat at 10 tonnes.

Apart from holding the second largest known platinum reserves in the world after South Africa, Zimbabwe has vast mineral deposits including iron, nickel, diamonds, copper and coal, among others.

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