Platinum on cusp of major upswing

16 Dec, 2018 - 00:12 0 Views
Platinum on cusp of major upswing

The Sunday Mail

Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Business Reporter

ZIMBABWE is on course to double platinum production by 2023 as well as value add the mineral through the construction of local base and precious metal refineries, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has said.

Zimbabwe, in line with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 target, intends to grow its annual mineral exports earnings from the current US$2 billion to US$12 billion by 2023, and Government is working on a number of strategies towards attaining this target.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business on Friday, Minister Chitando said Government has so far received input which it is considering for incorporation into the new platinum development policy to be launched in the first quarter of 2019.

Zimbabwe, according to the World Platinum Investment Council, produced 480 000 of platinum in 2017.

Government also projects increased economic activity as the three major producers — Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki – all have plans of implementing value addition strategies, while the new investor, Karo Resources, has committed to constructing a refinery.

Platinum production involves mining of ore, production of concentrate, smelting of concentrate into ore, production of base minerals from a base metal refinery, and, finally, precious metals from a precious metal refinery.

Currently, the country’s largest platinum producer, Zimplats, is at matte stage, Mimosa is at concentrate stage of value addition and Unki has just finished construction of a smelter which will enable it to produce matte.

At present, both the matte and concentrate are shipped to SA for further value addition to extract final product.

Proposals by the Platinum Producers Association to jointly establish base and precious metal refineries are a significant step in fulfilment of Government’s value-addition drive.

“The Platinum Producers Association, the umbrella body of current platinum producers, and those at project phase has submitted proposals and a roadmap for the construction of base metal and precious metal refineries to us,” said Minister Chitando.

“We are in the process of formulating a Platinum Development Policy which will be announced early next year. The policy will provide for a doubling of platinum production by 2023 and value addition,” he said.

While the three current producers are working on their programmes, Karo Resources is making major strides towards the fulfilment of its $4,2 billion investment deal that will see them overtaking the trio of Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki combined.

Last week, Minister Chitando had first-hand experience of the exploratory work the company is working on with two state-of-the-art aircraft carrying out aero-magnetic geophysical work on the Karo’s mining concession.

One of the aircrafts has already flown more than 4 000 kilometres on the concession on a resource definition programme.

Exploration experts carrying out the exercise have been flying over the site from 7am to 11am on a daily basis before landing for data recording and relaying of the same for modelling to a renowned geophysics professor based in South Africa, who is already working on the data.

The two aircraft are expected to complete 10 000 kilometres by end of January 2019.

The development is in line with President Mnangagwa’s insistence that investors should be kept to agreed delivery timelines to ensure that no one signs deals for speculative reasons.

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