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Zimplats closes mine, expects $100m hit
20/08/2014 00:00:00
by The Source I Business Reporter
 
 
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THE country’s largest platinum miner, Zimplats has shut down Bimha mine, its largest underground operation, following a ground collapse at the mine last month.

The development will cost the company 70,000 platinum ounces, about 30 percent of overall production which is worth about $100 million.

“Further to the (July 18) announcement by Zimplats regarding the underground collapse at a section of the Bimha Mine … a decision has now been made to cease all mining operations at the mine with immediate effect in order to safeguard the safety of underground personnel and equipment,” Zimplats said in a statement.

The company, 87 percent owned by the world’s second largest platinum miner Implats, produced 240,000 platinum ounces in the year to June 2014.

Immediately after the incident, Zimplats had estimated a loss of about 50 percent of Bimha’s total output. Preliminary indications had also been that the mine would be brought back to full production in 15 months.

The company has, however, indicated that ground conditions have continued to deteriorate, leading to the closure of the entire mine.

“A team of company and independent advisers has been appointed to conduct detailed investigations to re-engineer and or arrest the current mine stability concerns at the Bimha Mine,” CEO Alex Mhembere said in the statement.

In 2013, Bimha produced 41 percent of Zimplats’ total 4,96 million tonnes of ore, with the rest coming from the company’s three other mines.

The Bimha collapse also means Zimplats will not be able to reach its Phase II design capacity of 6,2 million tonnes per annum in the near future.

“Over recent weeks, ground conditions have continued to deteriorate and, as a consequence, it has been decided to withdraw employees in high-risk areas with immediate effect and to implement orderly closure procedures across the rest of the mine,” Zimplats said.

Production from the other three mines is not expected to be affected and the ramp-up of Mupfuti Mine continues as planned, Zimplats said, while investigations to re-engineer and stop the current mine stability concerns at Bimha Mine continue.

“In addition two mining fleets from the Bimha Mine have already been deployed to the other mines to mitigate production losses,” said Mhembere.



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