Zimplats production, grade dips in Q1

28th April 2023 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

ASX-listed platinum group metals (PGMs) miner Zimplats has posted lower production for all its metals in the quarter ended March 30, as well as lower grades, compared with the same quarter of last year.

Output of platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and gold (6E) PGMs, at 148 254 oz, was 8% lower compared with the December quarter and marginally lower than the 148 541 oz produced in the March quarter of last year.

Silver output decreased by 7% year-on-year and 12% quarter-on-quarter, to 11 365 oz.

Nickel production was 8% lower quarter-on-quarter and 3% lower year-on-year, at 1 420 t.

Copper production was 9% and 1% lower, compared with the preceding quarter and prior comparable quarter of 2022, respectively, at 1 051 t.

Cobalt output was 21% lower quarter-on-quarter, and 12% lower year-on-year, at 15 t.

Zimplats explains that its mined tonnage decreased by 4% quarter-on-quarter, while its ore milled was 3% lower from the prior quarter at 1.88-million tonnes; however, the milled volumes increased by 10% year-on-year, owing to the inclusion of tonnes milled at the Ngezi project’s third concentrator plant, which was commissioned in September last year.

The 6E head grade decreased by 3% quarter-on-quarter and 4% year-on-year, largely owing to an increase in lower grade stockpiles mined, dilution from mining across geological structures and mining of larger construction excavations.

Meanwhile, Zimplats spent $2.3-million on exploration drilling in the reporting quarter, with another $3.6-million of exploration spend committed as of March 31. The exploration activity is mainly aimed at upgrading the group’s mineral resources.

The company says the development of its Mupani mine and the upgrade of the Bimha mine progressed in the quarter under review, as planned, which will replace the Rukodzi mine as it reached the end of its life. The Mupani and Bimha mines will also replace production from the Ngwarati and Mupfuti mines, the resources of which will be depleted in the 2025 and 2028 financial years, respectively.

Zimplats also continues to progress its 35 MW Selous Metallurgical Complex solar plant. The final phase of the project is scheduled for completion in the 2027 financial year, at a total project cost of $201-million.