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Zim platinum output drops

ZIMBABWE’S refined platinum output fell to 480 000 ounces (oz) in 2022, according to the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC)’s fourth quarter global report for 2022.

The WPIC said Zimbabwe’s refined platinum production for 2021 was 485 000oz.

It said output will rise to 502 000oz this year, driven by expansion projects across most of the country’s major miners.

Zimbabwe is the world’s third biggest platinum producer behind Russia and its southern neighbour, South Africa.

Trends in its production have a significant bearing on how world platinum markets perform.

Three of southern Africa’s biggest platinum producers have operations in the country.

These are the Australia Stock Exchange listed Zimplats, a unit of South African headquartered Impala Platinum, and Anglo American, which operates Unki Mine near Shurugwi.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed Sibanye Stillwater also has interest in Zimbabwe through Zvishavane based Mimosa Mining Company, the country’s second biggest producer.

This comes as production of minerals last year was severely affected by the loss of power and foreign currency constraints that remained the major challenges affecting the mining industry.

Most local miners lost 20% of their production potential while 70% reported finding it hard to access adequate foreign currency to import raw materials, according to the Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe.

“In Zimbabwe, despite underlying mine production increasing due to project development, refined output remained unchanged year-on-year due to the release of semi-processed inventory in 2021,” the WPIC said.

“The completion of the Unki debottlenecking project and the commissioning of the Ngezi third concentrator at Zimplats increased capacity, which will result in higher refined volumes in 2023.

“Production from Zimbabwe is expected to reach a new high this year of around 500 000oz as ongoing project development brings new volumes online.

“Gains from the commissioning of a new concentrator at Zimplats were partly offset by maintenance at Unki.

“Although power supply risks and operational challenges have been factored into the mining supply forecast for 2023, a worsening of electricity supply shortages in major producer South Africa and a gradual erosion of operational stability in Russia, linked to ongoing sanctions, present downside risks to supply.

“In contrast, although demand forecasts include the negative impact of inflation and lower global economic growth, downside risks are well protected as the strong demand growth results mainly from ongoing platinum for palladium substitution in automotive applications, already committed glass capacity additions, with construction to be completed in 2023, and robust bar and coin demand,” the report added. – (The Independent)

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