Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
ZVISHAVANE-based platinum group metals (PGM) producer, Mimosa Mining Company (MMC), plans to spend nearly US$100 million in new capital projects aimed at expanding mine life and scaling up production capacity.
This would be a big boost to Zimbabwe’s quest to achieve a US$12 billion mining milestone by 2023. Already the company is channelling more resources in a plant optimisation project to ramp up production while also focusing on developing new mining areas, building a new tailings dam and improving processing efficiencies.
A new tailing storage facility — a dam that stores waste from the mine — is being built at a cost of US$65 million. The company is also spending a further US$38 million for a plant optimisation project, which will boost processing efficiencies and enhance more from mineral ore recovery.
With a capacity of producing 2,8 million tons of ore per year, the plant optimisation project will see production surging by six percent with the mine targeting to complete the project before the end of the year.
Jointly owned by South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum, Mimosa operates on the southern portion of the Zimbabwean Great Dyke near Zvishavane town and the mine site, South Hill, is projected to run out in about 10 years. Hence plans are now underway to develop a new mining site called North Hill that is expected to add the mine’s life by 22 years.
General manager, Mr Steve Ndiyamba, said they have completed exploration at the North and South Hill claims as part of the shaft development programme to extend the lifespan of the mine.
“We need to invest plus or minus US$90 million-US$100 million into North Hill to get another 12 years. If we explore and investigate the other ore bodies and there is value, we may get another 10 years,” he said.
“So, we are looking at about 30 years. We have drilled North Hill and we know what is there. We know what is in South Hill that is what will take us an additional 22 years.” Mr Ndiyamba said the company still has a lot of exploration to do to expand the lifespan of the mine.
“Beyond North Hill project, we still have to do a lot more work. But before we do that, we need to spend money on North Hill to be able to take our lifespan from 10 years to 22 years,” he said.
“So, we are already working on a replacement shaft at North Hill, and that work will be plus or minus US$90 million-US$100 million.”
Mr Ndiyamba said the mine has been growing over the years and has reached a stage where it is removing bottlenecks that were crippling efficiencies.
“So, the plant optimisation project is designed to de-bottleneck various areas of the plant so that we create enough capacity and recover more ounces of platinum on the same product,” he said.
Mr Ndiyamba said despite being known more for its platinum- the firm is mining a total of 10 minerals.
“The mine started out as a nickel mine, before switching to PGMs as demand shifted. We mine 10 metals, which include rhodium, palladium, ruthenium, gold, silver, iridium, nickel, copper and cobalt,” he said.
“Platinum contributes only 20 percent of our revenue while 80 percent comes from other metals.”
Mr Ndiyamba said the company fully supports the Government’s mineral value addition programme adding that the firm is readily available to process the minerals locally if there are domestic refineries to enhance accountability.
He said the company declares all by-products from the processing of matte, which takes place in South Africa.
“In terms of accountability, we have Government minerals inspectors who are resident on site. Every mineral we export is accounted for meaning we are very much aware of the need for accountability of the minerals and they are there to make sure that Government mining policies are adhered to,” said Mr Ndiyamba.
Mimosa employs over 3 000 employees and benefits thousands of people in downstream industries.
Article Source: The Chronicle