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Implats in final stages of approving R10bn worth of new platinum projects

Implats presentation of results covered by Mining Weekly’s Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

12th March 2021

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Platinum group metals (PGMs) mining and marketing company Implats is in the final stages of approving two exciting new platinum projects that tick all the boxes of the company’s strategic intent, CEO Nico Muller said late last month.

The one project is a Merensky reef expansion project at the Two Rivers platinum mine, an opencast mine in Steelpoort, Limpopo, and the other the expansion of the production capacity of the Bimha Mupani project at Zimplats, in Zimbabwe.

The Two Rivers project will add 180 000 oz at a capital expenditure (capex) of R5.7-billion over the next four years and the Bimha Mupani expansion another 180 000 oz at a capex of R4.3-billion over the next four to five years.

“They’re both shallow, mechanised, low-risk and fit into our strategic objectives very well,” Muller said at a media briefing covered by Engineering News & Mining Weekly.

Taking questions after the JSE-listed company reported a stellar set of financial results that included 328% rocketing headline earnings of R14.5-billion, Muller described the funding for the projects as being “very feasible within the current remit of our financial performance”, and added that the company hoped to come to the market within the next few months with announcements on both projects.

“We do believe that we have the most attractive opportunities within our own company,” Muller emphasised.

Implats is guiding capex for the current financial year to the end of June at a low range of between R5.8-billion and R6.2-billion.

For some time now, the Zimplats smelter has been operating at 6.5-million tons capacity a year from four mines and three concentrator plants.

“So, the expansion of Zimplats comes with a need for further beneficiation capacity,” said Implats COO Gerhard Potgieter.

A ramp of the proposed new Bimha Mupani mine expansion, it would become the fifth mine and together with the Bimha mine, will be growing into a significant size of the production.

“So much so that this proposed project will take it to 6.7-million tons, which means that only those two mines together will be able to produce the full capacity of Zimplats, leaving the other three older mines with some excess capacity for us as they ramp down.

“So, the first thing we have to do is to provide a fourth concentrator unit at the operation, so that we can concentrate those tons. Unfortunately, the smelter at Zimplats is at full capacity, which means that the first step from that would be those concentrates having to come to our Rustenburg operations and be treated here.

“Longer term, we’ve acknowledged the fact that we are constrained as far as our smelting capacity in Zimbabwe is concerned, and we are busy with studies for a further furnace and the sulphur abatement that goes with it. It’s quite a substantial capital investment to be made and we’ve started with the feasibility studies on that. It’s early days, but we’ve acknowledged the fact that we need more capacity in Zimbabwe,” Potgieter said.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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