PLATINUM producer Zimplats has spent US$443 million during the quarter to June this year towards major capital projects, including the development of Mupani Mine and Bimha Mine upgrade as part of its expansion programme..
In its quarterly report for the period ended June 30, 2023, the platinum miner said the Mupani and Bimha mine projects progressed as planned during the quarter.
Cumulatively, US$318,8 million was spent on these projects, with an additional US$59,1 million committed, against a total project budget of US$468 million.
It said the smelter expansion and the sulphur dioxide (SO2) abatement plant project progressed as planned during the quarter with US$112,2 million spent to date and a further US$329,3 million committed.
In the financial year 2022, Zimplats obtained a 185MW power generation licence. By the end of the quarter under review, a cumulative US$1,1 million had been spent on the first phase of its solar project, a 35MW solar plant at the Selous Metallurgical Complex, and US$35,4 million had been committed, against a budget of US$37 million.
“The first of the project’s four implementation phases is progressing as planned, with the final phase scheduled for completion in FY2027 (financial year 2027), at a total project cost estimate of US$201 million,” it said.
Zimplats said implementation of the base metal refinery refurbishment project progressed well during the quarter with US$10,9 million spent to date, and a further US$18,4 million committed, against a total budget of US$189,9 million.
Exploration activities during the quarter related mainly to surface diamond drilling to upgrade the group’s mineral resources, geotechnical assessments of the rock mass properties and collecting samples for geo-metallurgical test work to support current and future mining operations in Ngezi and the technical studies underway at Hartley.
The report showed that a total of 28 862 metres were drilled as part of the exploration work during the quarter at a cost of US$3 million and an additional US$3 million was committed as at June 30, 2023.
It also showed that mined tonnage rose 6% from the prior quarter, as the number of operating days increased from 90 in the prior quarter to 92 in the period under review and the availability of trackless mining machinery improved.
Mined volumes increased by 4% from the prior comparable quarter which was negatively impacted by poor equipment availability at Mupfuti Mine.
“Ore milled increased by 3% from the prior quarter to 1,94 million tonnes and benefited from the increase in operating days and improved availability of power during the period,” it said.
“The third concentrator at Ngezi was commissioned in September 2022 and increased milling capacity resulted in a 10% increase in milled throughput from the prior comparable quarter.”
Zimplats said a direct 50MW power import agreement was concluded with the Zambia Electricity Supply Company at the beginning of the period and resulted in improved power stability and availability in the quarter under review.
“6E (platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, ruthenium and iridium) head grade improved by 2% from the prior quarter due to improved ore mix but was 4% lower than the prior comparable quarter due to the higher volume of milled throughput sourced from low-grade stockpiles.
“The combination of improved milling, grade and recovery resulted in a 9% increase in 6E metal in final product volumes.”
Metal volumes increased by 7% from the prior comparable quarter as the impact of higher milled throughput and the marginal improvement in process recoveries was offset by the decrease in 6E head grade.
Higher mined and milled volumes resulted in a 6% increase in total operating cash costs from the prior quarter. – (Newsday)