The country’s biggest platinum producer, Zimplats, has set aside a US$100m war chest towards refurbishing the mothballed Base Metal Refinery (BMR) at the Selous Metallurgical Complex as it seeks to further beneficiate converter matte.
This is part of the platinum miner’s overall capital investment strategy which has a budget of US$1.8bn to be implemented over a 10-year period beginning in 2021 which was recently approved by the Zimplats board. Of the funding, US$1.2bn has already been approved for implementation.
Zimplats owns a base metal refinery that separates minerals like nickel, chrome and copper from platinum metal groups, but says outdated technology makes it too expensive to run.
To date the white metal producer has completed a feasibility study for the modification and refurbishment of BMR.
Initially it was estimated that setting up a platinum refinery will require a whopping US$3bn.
“Zimplats will refurbish the mothballed base metal refinery, to further beneficiate converter matte (US$100m). Zimplats is pleased to announce that the board of directors has approved an overall capital investment strategy with a budget of US$1.8bn to be implemented over a 10-year period beginning in 2021, with US$1.2bn already approved for implementation,” the company said on Monday.
The projects under the US$1.8bn strategy include maintaining current production levels through mine replacements and upgrades (US$516m).
The expanding production levels through growth projects, include the development of a new mine and increased processing capacity, which will boost nameplate capacity to 8.8m tonnes per annum from 6.7m tonnes and in-country processing capacity to 380 000 tonnes of concentrate per year.
The establishment of an abatement facility will help to mitigate sulphuric dioxide emissions emanating from the current and expanded smelting capacity (US$969m), the company said.
The platinum miner is also looking at investing US$201m in an 185MW solar plant to augment power supplies and enhance ESG performance metrics to maintain Zimplats licence to operate.
“These projects are expected to be funded by internally generated resources. The ASX announcement was approved and authorised for release by the board of directors of Zimplats Holdings Limited,” Zimplats said.
The white metal producer said it will continue to scout expansion options including development of new production facilities as the platinum giant looks at extending its tentacles in platinum production.
The company is bullish on the outlook buoyed by strong metal prices and increasing production levels arising from unconstrained ramp-up of Mupani Mine and the Phase 3A expansion – third concentrator project currently under implementation.
The platinum producer is 87% owned by Impala Platinum Holdings Limited while the remaining 13% is owned by independent shareholders.
The mining company has been instrumental in the development of the country’s platinum value chain.
The group during the past year surpassed the US$1bn revenue mark for the first time in its 20-year history.