Zimplats profit up 133pc to $6,8m

HARARE - Zimbabwe largest platinum producer, Zimplats’ profit in the quarter to March 2015 surged by 133 percent to $6,8 million compared to a loss of $20,5 million in the previous quarter due to increased metal sales.

In the period under review metal sales volumes went up four percent from 100 443 ounces to 104 608 ounces.

“Tonnes mined increased by eight percent from the previous quarter due to the 43 000 tonnes of ore from the Bimha Mine redevelopment and a 14 percent production increase at Mupfuti Mine.

“The stripping of bulk waste at the Open Pit Mine progressed well with the first ore expected early in the fourth quarter,” said the platinum miner.

Zimplats — 87 percent owned by South African Impala Platinum (Implats) — said revenues for the quarter increased by 10 percent to $110,2 million.

In the period under review, direct and indirect tax payments to the government decreased by 31 percent to $9 million compared to the previous quarter “mainly due to a reduction in royalties” which are “now payable at the mining agreement rate”.

The Australian Stock Exchange-listed miner last year began refurbishments of the refinery — located in Selous, about 80km west of Harare — following mounting pressure from government on beneficiation of minerals to ensure that the country derives maximum benefits from the exploitation of its natural resources.

“We will refurbish and commission the mothballed Selous Metallurgical Complex Base Metal Refinery (“BMR”) at an estimated cost of $131 million and orders for long lead items have already been placed.

“Implementation of the project started in July 2014 and is expected to be completed by June 2016,” said the company.

A base metal refinery may process platinum up to 60 percent of platinum group metals, which will be further processed by a precious metal refinery.

Zimplats suspended operations of its BMR, which separated minerals such as nickel, chrome and copper from platinum group metals, a few years ago after it had become prohibitively expensive to operate due to outdated technology.

The group also said the previous quarter’s cash cost was also low due to the release of metal locked up in the system, which resulted in “metal in converter matte produced” being higher than the metal in concentrate produced.

Zimplats is among three South African platinum groups that are operational in Zimbabwe.

The others are Aquarius Platinum, which jointly owns Mimosa mine together with Implats and Anglo Platinum which runs the Unki mine.

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