HARARE – Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) has shut down Bimha Mine, its largest underground operation, following a ground collapse at the mine last month, a move that will cost the company 70 000 platinum ounces worth about $100 million, the company announced on Wednesday.
“Further to the announcement by Zimplats on 18 July 2014 regarding the underground collapse at a section of the Bimha Mine, Zimplats wishes to inform shareholders and other stakeholders that a decision has now been made to cease all mining operations at the Bimha Mine with immediate effect in order to safeguard the safety of underground personnel and equipment,” Zimplats said in a statement.
Zimplats, which is 87 % 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% 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.
In 2013, Bimha produced 41% 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.
— The Source