Major Setback as ZIMPLATS Delays Refinery refurbishment


Zimbabwe’s hopes for the establishment of a Platinum Group Metal (PGM) beneficiation plant may be in jeopardy, with the country’s largest PGM producer postponing the refurbishment of the Selous Base Metal Refinery (BMR).

Rudairo Mapuranga

According to Impala Platinum (Implats), which owns Zimplats, the PGM producer will also delay other projects in the country, including the 185MW solar plant, due to softening commodity prices.

Despite posting a 9 per cent increase in 6E production and boosting sales by 10 per cent to 320,196 ounces in the six months to December 2023, softening metal prices have dragged the PGM miner into losses.

In 2021, Zimplats announced a US$1.8 billion expansion plan, the single largest investment commitment into Zimbabwe in years. However, Implats now has to delay some of the projects after falling prices cut group profits by 88% in the December half-year.

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Dosman Mangisi

“At Zimplats, the implementation of the sulfur-dioxide abatement and smelter expansion project was rationalized to manage cash constraints. The execution of the Selous Base Metal Refinery (BMR) refurbishment was deferred. Further phases of the 185MW solar project have also been postponed.

The sulfur dioxide plant will now only start in 2028. The base metal refinery project, according to Implats, has been ‘deferred outside the five-year planning window.’ A new smelter will be completed at Zimplats in May. After that, the company will slow down spending. ‘Post the new smelter commissioning at Zimplats, plans to slow future growth capital will see the asset revert to free cash flow generation.’

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