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S ta n d a r d Jane Bordenave finds out about Zimbabwe’s largest producer of platinum ore and how its investments are benefitting the local community.

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Zimplats FEATURE

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latinum miner Zimplats was founded in 1998 by Delta Gold Limited and is the largest producer of the metal in Zimbabwe. The company was established with the specific purpose of taking control of all Delta Gold’s platinum interests. Since 2001 it has been part of the Implats group, one of the largest platinum mining and processing groups in Africa. The company’s activities are situated entirely on the Great Dyke, which is west of the capital, Harare, in the north east of the country. The Great Dyke has been known as an important source of minerals since 1918, when the presence of Platinum was recorded along with copper and aluminium. The Hartley Complex is one of four geological complexes in the dyke, and Zimplats owns the largest portion of it. It is about 100km long and contains approximately 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s PGM mineral resources. The firm’s main asset is the Ngezi mine complex, which is at the southern end of the Hartley complex. The original opencast mine began production in November 2001 and at its peak produced two million tonnes of ore per annum. In 2003, the business began investigating the potential for underground mining at the site. Having successfully developed a trial mine, it established the first of three underground mines, which reached full capacity in 2006, producing one million tonnes per annum. In 2008 the development of the second of these underground mines began and reached full production of 1.2 million tonnes in 2009. Production from the open-pit was systematically replaced by the development of underground mines and was closed late in 2008. When development of the third mine is completed next year, total production at Ngezi will be 4.2 million tonnes per annum. Development of the Ngezi mines has not been cheap – over the past nine years, Zimplats has invested just under $500 million in the asset, $200 million of which has been in www.southafricamag.com

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Company name FEATURE

the development of the underground facilities. However, it has been a highly strategic and worthwhile investment: the higher-grade underground mines coupled with increased production have enabled the organisation to reduce costs. The main use of platinum is in catalytic converters to control emissions in the automotive sector and, when automotive sales dropped off, the price of platinum plunged from $2,300 per ounce to $800 per ounce in late 2008. Through strong strategic management and increased output, after-tax profits this year soared to $122 million. Other than investment in the development of assets, the firm has spent a significant amount of capital on infrastructure. In 2001, the company constructed a 77km tarmac highway connecting the mine at Ngezi to the processing

plant at Hartley Platinum Mine. The road only took six months to complete yet it is able to take the weight of 100 tonne trucks travelling over it for 20 hours every day. The firm also invests heavily in CSR initiatives in the local area. Over the past 12 months, Zimplats has spent $10 million on the renovation and construction of schools in the town of Turf, the settlement closest to the mine site. Additionally, in June 2010 the organisation financed the construction of an electricity substation for the national power utility at Selous, at a cost of $25 million. The mines are fully mechanised and employ 2,500 people. All staff particularly the key technical staff, benefit from training offered by the organisation. A further 1,500 jobs are dependent on the

Platinum miner Zimplats was founded in 1998 by Delta Gold Limited and is the largest producer of the metal in Zimbabwe

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operation through suppliers and contractors. Zimplats has initiated an ambitious expansion project. Phase 2, as it is known, which will see production levels increase by an additional two million tonnes per annum from a new underground mine. The capacity of the concentrator at Ngezi will be expanded to four million tonnes per annum. The expansion project is set to cost $500 million and, as well as the improvements at the mine, will also include the construction of 1,125 new employee houses, two schools, a hospital and a 35,000 mega litre dam on the nearby Munyati River. Providers of catering services, spares, vehicle servicing, IT hardware and consumables such as stationery will also benefit from this investment. From boom to downturn and back again, Zimplats has remained an important local economic driver and producer of platinum group metals (PMG’s) for the global platinum market. Through this next level of investment and expansion, it will further cement itself as one of Zimbabwe’s largest and most profitable businesses. END

Reynolds Industrial Supplies are proud to be suppliers of smelter electrode casings for the Zimplats Elkem modular electrode system. We also supply crushing and dense medium separation equipment to the coal, gold, chrome and platinum mines. We offer technical services and a comprehensive spare parts service for rolling mills, process line equipment, smelters and hydraulic cylinders. Agents for: Bradford Cylinders, STech Heavy Engineering (broad spectrum engineering – light to heavy), Ametsa Refractories and Vacohub Lifting Equipment. Tel: (011) 422 4834 Fax (011) 422 4756 E-mail: reyindsup@mweb.co.za


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Block B (Green), Emerald Park 30 The Chase (West) Emerald Hill, Harare Zimbabwe P O Box 6380 Harare Zimbabwe Tel: +263 (0) 4 332 590-3 Fax:+263 (0) 4 332 496 Email: info@zimplats.com

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ZIMPLATS FEATURE