Staff Writer

Platinum production in Zimbabwe rose 12% to 243 000 ounces in the first half of 2021 from 218 000 ounces in the comparative period, latest data shows.

The southern African nation, which is home to the world’s second biggest known deposits of platinum after South Africa, has three platinum-producing mines – Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki.

In its quarterly global production report, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) noted that Q2 2021 output was 17% higher when compared to Q2 2020.  

“Zimbabwean production increased by 17% (+18 koz) year-on-year as a backlog of matte from the Unki smelter was processed through the ACP and refined,” stated WPIC.

Global mine supply jumped 65% year-on-year to 1,557 koz, the highest quarter for two years, as the major producer South Africa recovered from the extreme disruption of Q2’20, supporting refined output with a drawdown of semi-finished inventory.

South African output increased 124% year-on-year due to a return to full operations at the Anglo American Platinum Converter Plant (ACP) following the shutdown in Q2’20.

Global refined supply is expected to rebound to near 2019 levels in 2021, rising by 21% to 6,047 koz on the back of the South African recovery following the extreme disruptions of 2020.

South Africa is anticipated to add 1,103 koz year-on-year, a 33% increase to 4,402 koz. According to WPIC, South Africa’s output continues to exceed earlier production guidance, with the ACP operating ahead of expectations and the largely successful navigation of Covid-19 pandemic challenges.

North American volumes are forecast to grow by 8% as a project in Montana ramps-up.

“While Zimbabwe is expected to add 17 koz, up 4%, as the backlog of semi-finished inventory is refined in South Africa.”

In 2020, platinum production in Zimbabwe surged by 5% to 476 000oz in from 455 000oz in 2019, becoming the only country to register growth among other top producing nations despite the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zimbabwe is envisioning a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023. Of the US$12 billion, gold, platinum diamonds will contribute US$4 billion, US$3 billion and US$1 billion respectively. Chrome, iron ore and carbon steel will contribute US$$1 billion while coal and hydrocarbons will contribute the same. Lithium at US$500 000 while other minerals will constitute US$1.5 billion – Harare

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