Impala Platinum Holdings has given approval for Zimplats’ subsidiary Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Private) Limited to proceed with development of the $264m Mupani Mine (Portal 6).

Approval comes following completion of a bankable feasibility study.

The new underground mining complex will replace production from Rukodzi Mine and Ngwarati Mine once these are mined out and closed.

Initial project work started in June 2016 and included a box cut, construction of the main access road and project offices with essential project infrastructure.

Box cutting will be completed this year, with preparations having started for developing the main underground access.

Development of the main underground access infrastructure (1,105m) to position of the first planned reef panels is expected to take 37 months to complete. This will enable the first mining teams to be deployed from early 2021.

"The project will have a design capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per annum."

The project will have a design capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa), which is targeted in 2025 when the complete complement of ten mining teams will be deployed, which will comprise nine for production and one for development.

At this rate, the new mine will have a life expectancy of 34 years in extracting only the relatively flat ore reserves.

The project will increase Zimplats’ mineral reserves by three million to reach nine million platinum ounces.

Mupani Mine will create 1,000 jobs at its full production capacity. It will also employ a large number of contractors during the development, construction and commissioning phases. Its design builds on modern, safe and low-cost mechanised room and pillar mining method that is in-place at all existing Zimplats mines.  

Once commissioned, the mined ore will be beneficiated in the Ngezi/Selous processing facilities and smelted in the 12.5MW Zimplats furnace, which was recently equipped with remote-controlled hydraulic mud guns for safe furnace tapping and upgraded furnace automation for online condition monitoring and safe process control.