Platinum output down 8pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's platinum output for the second quarter of 2018 stood at 3 438 kilogrammes (kg), down 8,2 percent from 3 744 kg produced in the first quarter of 2018, the central bank has said.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said platinum ore output declined by 10 percent in comparison to the previous quarter, with the volume of ore milled also going down five percent during the period under review.

“The decrease in platinum output was attributable to reduced throughput from the major producer, Zimplats.

“Platinum output at Zimplats fell, following the closure of low grade ore open-pit operations,” the apex bank said in its economic report for the quarter.

According to the central bank, the reduction in ore milled was due to planned mill relining shutdowns at both concentrators during the second quarter.

“Zimplats also experienced an eight percent decline in throughput of concentrates due to a planned seven-day shutdown for maintenance in May 2018. This shutdown is conducted once every six months,” the RBZ said.

In the same report, the RBZ also highlighted that overall, the various minerals had recorded mixed performances.

Diamond output stood at 1,002 million carats in the second quarter of 2018, compared to 903 000 carats produced during the same period in 2017.

Nickel output declined by 11,7 percent to end the second quarter of 2018 at 4 108 tonnes, from 4 551 tonnes produced in the same period in 2017, with nickel output from PGMs, particularly at Zimplats, also declining.

Chrome ore output increased to 503 879 tonnes in the second quarter of 2018, from about 411 446 tonnes in the first quarter of 2018.

“The production of the mineral partly benefitted from the rise in international prices. Chrome ore prices increased from an average of $141,44 per tonne in the first quarter of 2018, to average of about $148,95, during the second quarter of 2018.

“About 49 percent of the chrome ore was exported as raw, while the remaining 51 percent was beneficiated and exported as high carbon ferrochrome (HCF),” RBZ said.

The average international prices of HCF, however, retreated further from about $940,88 per tonne in the first quarter of 2018, to about $906,86 per tonne in the second quarter of 2018, amid indications of reduced demand from major markets such as China

Coal output, at 1,041 million tonnes during the second quarter of 2018, was 14,5 percent more than the 909 000 tonnes produced in the comparable period of 2017.

“Coal production largely benefitted from the entrance of a new player, Liberation Mine, which had been in production during the first five months of 2018, before operations were suspended in May 2018, due to environmental concerns.

“In addition, the ramping up of production at major producers, HCCL, Makomo and Zambezi Gas also increased coal output,” said RBZ.

HCCL resuscitated underground mining activities and ramped up open cast operations, following delivery of some plant and equipment.

Zambesi Gas also boosted production through engaging a well-resourced mining contractor.

The potential of Makomo, however, was constrained by low equipment availability, due to the shortage of foreign currency for the procurement of spare parts. — The Financial Gazette

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