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Impala Platinum reducing spending at Zimplats as global platinum prices decline

Impala Platinum is reducing its planned spending across its business, including at Zimplats, due to the decline in global platinum prices. This will negatively impact local suppliers and the economy, according to newZWire.

Platinum prices have fallen by 15% in 2023 due to concerns about global economic growth and a projected decrease in demand from vehicle manufacturers. Impala CEO Nico Muller says in a quarterly production update:

Planned elevated levels of spend across the portfolio will be adjusted to reflect the prevailing current reality of compressed industry margins.

An Impala spokesperson said while immediate projects like mining and processing are less likely to be affected, long-term projects such as sulphur abatement and renewable energy may be postponed or adjusted.

The company is working on various responses to the low prices and will disclose them in February.

It is expected that the full-year capital expenditure will be significantly reduced.

These cutbacks will impact local suppliers and contribute to an economic slowdown.

Zimplats, for example, spent $742 million on procurement, with $350 million going to local suppliers, a decrease from the previous year. Said Zimplats:

The slight decrease in local spend was mainly attributable to Zimplats’ growth and expansion capital projects that had a significant import portion and hence 53% of overall spend was attributable to foreign spend.

In addition to working with larger local suppliers, Zimplats has a special program called the Local Enterprise Development (LED) program to support smaller businesses.

Currently, they have 22 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in this program.

One example is Turf Brick Moulding (TBM), a women-led company that has produced 12 million bricks for Zimplats projects in the past year.

Another is CTS, which makes and repairs drivetrains for the mine. Zimplats has invested a total of $407 million in procuring goods and services from these SMEs since 2013.

Due to low mineral prices, Karo Platinum has had to delay the completion of its new $391 million mine in Zimbabwe by one year. This decline in mineral prices has also affected Zimbabwe’s export earnings, which decreased from $4.5 billion to $3.6 billion in the first nine months of this year compared to the same period last year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently visited Harare to discuss the country’s economy. The IMF team projected that Zimbabwe’s economy will grow by approximately 4.8% in 2023.

However, they expect the growth to slow down to 3.5% in 2024 due to weaker global demand for minerals and a slowdown in agriculture caused by weather conditions.

Finance and Investment Promotion Minister Mthuli Ncube also predicts that the economy will slow down in 2024, partly due to weak mineral prices.

IMF said as external conditions worsen, it becomes even more important for the country to focus on stabilizing the macroeconomy and implementing structural reforms.

The mining industry is facing challenges as the prices of commodities like lithium, platinum, nickel, and others are decreasing.

Platinum prices, for example, have fallen by approximately 15% in 2023 due to worries about global economic growth.

Similarly, palladium, which reached a high of over $3,000 per ounce in March 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine, is now trading at around $1,127 per ounce. These declines in prices are impacting the mining sector. – (Pindula)

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