Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 18 August 2009 – Zimplats “’ Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer “’ has again postponed the commissioning of its new concentrator, which forms part of the Ngezi phase 1 expansion project.
The new concentrator was scheduled for commissioning tomorrow, but company sources indicated this had been delayed. After completion of the Ngezi Phase 1 expansion project, Zimplats would be able to raise platinum output by 80% to 180 000 ounces a year from 96 000 ounces.
A source at the company’s headquarters here confirmed the development, but referred questions to Zimplats head of corporate communications Busi Chindove, who was out of office and could not be contacted to explain the sudden change of plans, reports allAfrica.com.
Initially, commissioning of the Ngezi concentrator had been planned to take place in April, but the platinum giant delayed that date following logistical problems. Zimplats said a supplier had failed to deliver key equipment on time, adding that the commissioning would be delayed by a month.
Zimplats had initially budgeted US$80 million (R640 million) for the Ngezi Phase I expansion, but the money was exhausted before the platinum giant had completed the projects under this initial phase. Zimplats chief executive Alex Mhembere revealed in February that Zimplats required an additional US$60 million (R480 million) to complete projects under the Ngezi phase 1 expansion.
The company recently secured R340 million for the Ngezi expansion projects, further reducing the balance needed to complete them. A dip in international metal prices had negatively affected Zimplats’ profitability, forcing it to resort to foreign finances to meet its cash needs.
Prices for platinum group metals have, however, started to pick up and this could go a long way in improving Zimplats’ cash position. This also reflected in the group’s first quarter performance this year when the platinum producer posted a US$1.1 million (R9 million) profit.