President commissions $62m Unki Mine smelter tomorrow
Unki Mine’s $62 million platinum smelting plant is now complete and is scheduled to be commissioned by President Mnangagwa tomorrow.
Construction work started in 2016 as the company heeded Government’s beneficiation call.
Unki Mine general manager Mr Walter Nemasasi confirmed the commissioning of the plant tomorrow, but could not be drawn into giving much details, saying they were busy preparing for the event.
“We are expecting President Mnangagwa to open the plant on Thursday. The commissioning had earlier been scheduled for January, but was moved to Thursday,” he said.
Unki Mine Smelting Plant project manager Mr Clifford Mutevhe once told media that all the structural and engineering work for the smelting plant was complete.
He said the plant will start operating on full throttle this year.
“This is a huge project that the mine is undertaking. All the structural work has been done,” he said.
Mr Mutevhe said the smelting plant, which will consume over 11 megawatts, would see the company smelting about 623 000 tonnes of platinum concentrate per annum.
Platinum processing will enable the country to realise more from its minerals as well as curbing repatriation of profits.
In May last year Government signed an agreement that would see the construction of a $300 million platinum refinery which will significantly increase platinum export earnings.
Kelltech, an Australian firm, will form a joint venture company with Zimbabwe Mining Development Cooperation (ZMDC).
The refinery will give Zimbabwe and opportunity to refine its platinum as opposed to the current process of exporting it as predominantly raw mineral.
The total output is thus expected to rise to 0,49 million ounces (moz) in 2026 from 0,42 moz produced thus year.
Following Government’s call for platinum producers to promote beneficiation, the miners have agreed to set up platinum refineries at their respective mining sites while they have also agreed to construct a single platinum processing plant.
Platinum processing, although requiring a lot of resources and capital, would enable Zimbabwe to realise more from its minerals as well as curbing repatriation of profits.
It is hoped that the refinery will give Zimbabwe an opportunity to refine its platinum as opposed to the present situation where the miners export raw ore.
Commissioning of the Unki platinum smelter is expected to go a long way in transforming the Zimbabwe mining industry in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, which compels companies to beneficiate their minerals through investing in ore processing plants.
The country has two other platinum mining producers, Zimplats and Mimosa whose smelting and refinery plants are at different stages of construction. — StateMedia