Unki completes the smelter construction project in Zimbabwe

Unki completes the smelter construction project in Zimbabwe
Mining News Updateby Sandra Muyambo

One of the largest Platinum mines in the country, Unki Mine, has completed the construction of its smelting plant, and this will make it easier to process its mineral ore locally.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently visited Unki mine in Shurugwi for the commissioning of the mine’s smelter construction project. The President who was accompanied by the Minister of Mines and Development Winston Chitando, as well as other senior Govt Officials, commended the mining company for going ahead with their long-term investment in Zimbabwe.

Over the years, several countries have lost billions of dollars annually in potential revenue as a result of selling unprocessed minerals. Unki is owned and operated by Anglo American under its Platinum Group Metals (PGMs). In their Integrated Annual Report 2018, Anglo American listed Unki among its high quality platinum resource bases. Unki situated on Great Dyke in Zimbabwe, has one of the world’s largest platinum reserves outside of South Africa.

The completion of Unki Mine will enhance value addition and will also help boost the country’s foreign currency reserves through export of processed minerals as opposed to their raw format.

The Smelter is designed to treat concentrate to produce a furnace matte. The facility specifically receives filtered concentrate from the Unki concentrator and it uses a coal-fired drier to remove the remaining moisture. It then feeds a 12 metre diameter electric smelting furnace and thereafter handles the resultant slag, matte and off gas.

Civil Engineering and Earthworks at Unki started in November 2016.Anglo American Platinum reported that they focused on strict cost containment and expedited construction time targets during the smelter construction project. The capital investment of Unki smelter totalled US $62 million and has been completed on time and within budget.

The Government of Zimbabwe has called on other mining companies to adopt the transitional stabilisation programme and join in on the construction of smelting and refining plants. Zimplats and Mimosa are among the companies that have heeded to this call.

Unki Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) production has reached a record of 92 000 ounces to June last year on the back of a ramp up in tonnes milled. Completion of the Unki Smelter is most likely projected to double or triple production levels and increase the economic free cash flow due to its improved performance and the sale of treasury bills.

The Platinum mine is also expected to generate employment and contribute to the much anticipated economic growth.The smelter is sized to meet Unki’s current production, however, it retains the capacity for later upgrade to meet future increased mine production. Future expansion decisions of Unki will depend on various factors including but not limited to the prevailing PGM market fundamentals. Anglo American Platinum is viewed as a long-term investor in country, having invested in excess of US$500 million in Zimbabwe since 2008.

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