Unki smelter 90pc complete

Unki Mine

Unki Mine

Lovemore Zigara Midlands Correspondent
Shurugwi-based platinum miner Unki Mines’ refinery is almost complete and commissioning is expected to be done in the second quarter next year. The refinery is being built at a cost of $62 million.

Unki, a subsidiary of the world’s largest platinum producer Anglo American, started constructing the smelter in August last year as part of government’s beneficiation and value addition thrust.

Company projects manager Clifford Mutevhe, said only electrical installations on the 8,5 megawatt furnace, which will be done in January paving way for its commissioning in July is outstanding.

“We expect to commission this project on 18 July next year and at the moment in terms of this project, we are now on the last floor of the furnace. We are almost done with over 90 percent of the work having been completed so far,” he said.

“The next key milestone we are going to have is the commencement of the electrical installations, which is basically kitting the furnace and this will begin January 18 next year,” added Mr Mutevhe.

He said on completion the furnace will smelt 62 160 tonnes of the precious group of minerals (pgm) which will require a total power voltage of 11 megawatts. Unki Mine has been on a growth trajectory over the years with the half year results of this year showing a 5 percent growth to a new record of 38 400 ounces.

This was driven by a 3 percent increase in tonnes milled and a 2 percent increase in grade to 3,48 grammes/tonne through better mining height control, which reduced the amount of waste mined resulting in more higher-grade ore being delivered to the concentrator.

The development at Unki comes as the other two platinum miners in the country Mimosa and Zimplats are at different stages of completing their smelters. Zimplats is on the final stages of the modification and refurbishment of its Base Metal Refinery at its Selous Metallurgical Complex, while Mimosa is at an advanced stage of setting up its own smelter in Zvishavane.

Government has insisted all minerals being beneficiated in the country and presenting the 2018 Budget proposal, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa, announced changes to the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act that will see only platinum and diamonds being affected by the 51-49 percent threshold.

Although these companies initiated the value addition processes long back, recently, many companies have been thawing relations with Government following operation restore legacy and the new economic order.

Article Source: The Herald