Zimplats plans US$1.8bn investment in mine expansion

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Implats’ Zimbabwe-based unit Zimplats on Thursday announced plans to invest a total of US$1.8 billion over the next seven years towards mine expansion, as well as the establishment of a base metal refinery.  

The bulk of the funds, amounting to US$386.2 million, will go towards the development of Mupani mine, while the base metal refinery (BMR) plant will cost US$200 million.

According to Zimplats, the BMR plant project will have capacity for local PGM base metal refining and will create 100 direct jobs and at least 1 000 indirect jobs.

The miner also plans to set up a 110 MW solar power plant at a total cost of US$201 million.

An expanded smelter will cost US$280 million while the development of Hartley mine will cost US$289 million.

Speaking after signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Zimplats' chief executive Alex Mhembere said the Mupani Mine upgrade project was a replacement for the depleting Rukodzi, Ngwarati and Mupfuti mines.

The smelter expansion and sulphur dioxide Abatement plant will have capacity to produce 100 kilo tonnes per annum of Sulphuric acid which is used in the local production of phosphate fertilisers, thereby replacing current acid imports.

"This will result in creation of 47 direct permanent jobs at Zimplats with an opportunity to create more along the value chain. This will also result in reduction in fertiliser imports by about US$50 million and boost other industries, water purification, battery manufacturing and other chemical industries," Mhembere said.

The expanded smelter project will see smelting capacity increased from 132 kilotons to 380 kilotons of smelted concentrators.

Mhembere said the project will also enhance the company’s capacity to smelt its own resources and for local third parties.

"This will see employment creation of 40 permanent jobs and save on transportation of bulk concentrates across the border and avail opportunity for new mines to reduce capital requirements," he said.

The platinum giant will also develop, finance, build, own and operate a 185 MW solar photovoltaic plant in order to improve security of power supply.

The PV solar plant is expected to be commissioned in the financial year 2023.  

Speaking at the signing ceremony, President Mnangagwa said Zimplats intention to construct a Base metal Refinery is a crucial step towards local mineral beneficiation and value addition of the platinum group of metals.

"The sulphuric acid plant will contribute strategic raw materials needed in the local manufacturing of fertilisers and help reduce the importation of sulphuric acid. The adoption and use of smart energy sources by Zimplats through integrating the development of a 110 MW solar power plant is also commendable," he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa highlighted that Zimplats' investments attest to the growing confidence of global capital in Zimbabwe.

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