Impala Platinum is WhyAfrica’s Pick Of The Week
With platinum in high demand, and business confidence slowly returning to Southern Africa, platinum miners are set to soar. Impala Platinum Holding (Implats), with operations in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Canada, is WhyAfrica’s Pick Of The Week.
In Africa, Implats operates several Platinum Group Mineral (PGM) mines across the world-famous Bushveld Igneous Complex in South Africa and in the Great Dyke geological setting in Zimbabwe. Its mines produce platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, and gold (6E).
The company has embarked on several life-of-mine extension projects at its Rustenburg operation in the North-West province of South Africa. According to Implats CEO, Nico Muller, Implats is confident that it will sustain and grow total refined supply of 6E PGMs from its southern African assets over the next decade.
He says that by creating a global player on the Western Limb of the Bushveld Igneous Complex will provide compelling benefits for South Africa and adds that Implats’ proposed acquisition of Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) will secure a Western Limb production base and entrench the region’s position as the most significant source of global primary PGM production.
“It will deliver tangible socio-economic benefits for the region, its communities, and South Africa,” says Muller.
Implats affirmed at the South African Investment Conference that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, earlier this week, that it will commit close to R50-billion to its capital investment programme over the next five years. The investment capital will be targeted at the group’s mining and processing assets, across stay-in-business operations and new growth projects.
Increased beneficiation facilities and capacity
Implats has committed up to R12-billion to expand processing facilities in Southern Africa over the next five years. This investment into its South African and Zimbabwean smelting and refining facilities will benefit the region’s production, reduce the environmental footprint of the Groups’ beneficiation capacity, and directly bolster and increase local beneficiation.
An initial USD521-million (R8.2-billion) will be invested in the expansion of existing Zimbabwean smelting capacity and the construction of a sulphur dioxide (SO2) abatement plant to mitigate air quality impacts.
The Zimbabwean smelting facilities will have access to hydropower, supplemented by electricity provided by a 35MW solar plant, which will be expanded to 185MW in a phased approach.
This expansion will accommodate an additional 600 000 6E1 PGM ounces per annum, which post-smelting will be transported to Implats’ South African processing facilities for further refining and in support of local beneficiation.
“This investment will benefit South Africa by opening additional smelting capacity at Implats’ South African facilities to accommodate new production growth opportunities in South Africa. The extra smelting capacity will service new Implats projects and provide additional treatment capacity for third-party customer requirements.
In addition, the increased concentrate production from Implats’ Zimbabwean operations will be brought to South Africa to refine at the group’s Springs refineries, thus contributing to South Africa’s beneficiation of precious metals.”
Implats will invest another R4.4-billion into improving its South African processing facilities. Circa R500 million has already been approved to expand treatment capacity by 10% in the medium term at its base metal refining facilities in Springs. In addition, feasibility studies into further capacity expansions at both its South African base and precious metals refineries are well advanced.
Implats has also confirmed it will invest more than circa R8-billion across its South African mining operations over the next few years (including attributable capital at its joint ventures).
In partnership with African Rainbow Minerals, Implats has committed R5.7-billion to the construction of a new Merensky Project at the Two Rivers’ Platinum Mine. Implats has a 46% stake in Two Rivers, but 100% of the 180 000 ounces of 6E PGM project production will be treated through the groups’ smelting and refining facilities.
A R5.1-billion investment at Implats’ Marula Mine will increase the operation’s life-of-mine by circa 17 years and expand capacity by circa 40 000 6E PGM ounces a year. Together, these projects will increase local beneficiation by approximately 220 000 6E PGM ounces per annum from 2028 onwards.
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