Sibanye closely monitoring Zim political upheavals

(File)
(File)

Harare – Sibanye-Stillwater on Tuesday said it is closely monitoring the unfolding political upheavals in Zimbabwe, although there has been little disturbance to the Mimosa mine it jointly owns with Impala Platinum (Implats) after the army took over power in the country last week.

Apart from Sibanye, SA platinum miners with operations in Zimbabwe comprise Implats – which wholly owns Zimplats – and Anglo Platinum, which runs the Unki mine in Shurugwi. Implats said earlier this month it would shut down the Mimosa mine if the government of Zimbabwe insists on a 15% levy on exports of unrefined platinum, starting next year.

Although the platinum miners are facing uncertainty from demands that they build local beneficiation facilities, they have had to monitor unfolding developments in the economy as pressure mounts on President Robert Mugabe to step down.

“We are obviously watching the unfolding events. We will continue to observe the events closely though,” Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said by email.

Mimosa is working on an on-reef expansion project after abandoning plans to sink a second shaft at the mine last year. The mine, in Zimbabwe’s Zvishavane, has also had a higher fatality rate compared to the other platinum miners in Zimbabwe in the past two years, with a rig operator being crushed to death this year.

It has, however, remained highly cash generative for Sibanye and Implats, contributing R94m in operating profit to Sibanye for the September 2017 quarter period.

The World Platinum Investment Council said in a report released on Tuesday that a handful of operations in both South Africa and Zimbabwe are currently under review, and may close if they fail to show a profit.

“Mimosa contributed R94m operating profit to Sibanye in the September 2017 quarter, so it is not loss making,” added Wellsted.

Production from Zimbabwe for this year is expected to fall by 10% to 440 000 ounces, according to the report which covers the third quarter. Platinum production from Zimbabwe for the September quarter declined to 95 000 ounces, “owing to furnace maintenance” work.

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