HARARE, November 30 (The Source) – Zimplats says it is going ahead with the development of a $264 million underground mine following board approval, which will raise its mineral reserves by a third to 9 million ounces.
Preliminary work on the Mupani Mine project started in June this year and, in a notice to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) on Wednesday, said Impala Platinum Holdings Limited and Zimplats boards of directors have given their respective approvals for the project to go ahead.
Zimplats currently operates four underground mines — Rukodzi, Ngwarati, Bimha and Mupfuti mines — as well as the opencast South Pit Mine.
Mupani will produce 2,2 million tonnes of ore annually at full production, expected in August 2025. It has a life expectancy of 34 years and its production will replace that from Rukodzi and Ngwarati Mines whose resources are expected to deplete in 2022 and 2025, respectively.
Development of the new mine will be internally funded, and will see Zimplats’ total spend in Zimbabwe exceeding $5,135 billion since it began operations in 2002.
It will employ 1,000 people.
“Early project work, including mining the box cut and constructing the main access road, project offices and other essential project infrastructure, started in June 2016. The box cut will be completed in November 2016 and preparations to start developing the main underground access have been initiated,” said chief executive Alex Mhembere in the statement.
“Developing the main underground access infrastructure to the position of the first planned reef panels is expected to take 37 months to complete, which will allow the first mining teams to be deployed from early 2021. Design capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per annum is targeted in 2025.”
Once commissioned, the mined ore will be beneficiated at Zimplats’ recently upgraded Ngezi/Selous processing facilities, Mhembere added.
Zimbabwe has the second-largest known platinum deposits after South Africa. Zimplats, Zimbabwe’s largest mining company, is one of three platinum producers in the country, along with Sibanye and Impala’s Mimosa joint venture in Zvishavane and Anglo Platinum’s Unki in Shurugwi.