Zim platinum output to surge 12pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's platinum output is expected to surge 12 percent to 430 000 ounces (oz) on the back of the completion of an expansion project at the country’s biggest mine, Zimplats, the World Platinum Investment Council (Wpic) has said.

According to Wpic’s sixth quarterly report titled Platinum Quarterly Q4 2015, the authority on the physical platinum investment market based in London said global refined supply was however expected to slump one percent to 5 970 koz.

“Completion of an expansion project sees output from Zimbabwe increase to 430 koz (+12 percent), while North American production drops very slightly following a mine closure (depletion) in 2015,” the investment council said.

This comes as Zimplats posted a $20,5 million operating loss for the quarter ended  December 31, 2014, a direct result of the collapse of its largest mine, Bimha experienced the same year. The mine’s performance during the year was impaired by the lower production volumes and metal prices as Bimha was shut down during the period.

However, the platinum miner recently said the redevelopment of its collapsed Bimha Mine was progressing well and the mine was on schedule to reach full production in April 2018, with other expansion projects also progressing well.

Apart from Zimplats, Zimbabwe has two other active platinum producers Mimosa and Unki.

Data from the Chamber of Mines shows that hat the value of platinum production fell 23 percent in 2015 at $381 million from $495 million after the platinum price slumped by approximately 24 percent in 2015 to $1 053/oz.

According to findings of a Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines-sanctioned study, titled The State of the Mining Industry Survey, Report on Findings 2015, platinum output increased from 12 483 in 2014, to 12 564 in 2015 and is projected to increase in 2016 as one of the players expects to ramp up production in 2016.

Zimbabwe supplies 12 percent of global refined production, the same as North America while South Africa is the largest at 73 percent followed by Russia at 12 percent.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has anchored a 2,4 percent growth in the mining sector increased output platinum and other metals.

Wpic said South African supply was projected to be two percent lower year-on-year at 4 310 koz.

Despite planned output in South Africa expected to rise three percent to 4, 535-million ounces this year, the council adjusted its forecast for the country’s supply down to 4, 31-million ounces “for potential disruption — industrial action related to wage negotiations, safety stoppages, or shaft closure due to fire”.

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