Unki PGM output forecast to reach 250 000oz in 2023 Unki Mine expects production to grow substantially this year following the completion of the debottlenecking project (File Picture)

Business Reporter

Platinum group metals (PGMs) production at Unki Mine is projected to reach 250 000 ounces in 2023 up from 232 100 ounces in 2022 following the completion of the debottlenecking project.

Unki’s debottleneck project, which was completed in 2021 and reached optimum production last year, was done at a cost of US$48 million with the expansion targeted to increase throughput capacity.

Unki, 100 percent owned by Anglo Platinum America, has its operations on the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe, 60km southeast of the town of Gweru.

Anglo-Platinum America, in its 2022 annual report, said to achieve the right economies of scale in Zimbabwe and South Africa, more investment was needed to increase production, adding growth of mining, in particular, drove other sectors.

As a result, AngloPlat said Unki mine strategy will focus on delivering safe profitable production on a continuous basis, implementing new technology and controlling costs to remain competitive.

“Currently there are 17 mining sections. The equipped sections have strike belts for transferring ore directly to the main incline shaft conveyor. Run-of-mine ore is processed at the 210 000 tonnes per month (tpm) concentrator plant on-site.

“The recent debottlenecking exercise on the concentrator increased capacity from 180 000tpm to treat up to 210,000tpm,” read part of the annual report.

The platinum giant said in light of power challenges obtaining in Zimbabwe, Unki is expediting opportunities for the development of alternative energy supply, currently focusing on a solar plant.

According to AngloPlat, PGM prices were firm in 2022, though with considerable volatility, however, the three main PGMs will be in deficit this year, reflecting solid demand and weak supply.

“Looking further out, fundamentals for PGMs remain attractive. Rising demand from many existing sectors, and measures underway to develop new PGM-using applications, will support sustainable growth.

“Rising battery-electric vehicle penetration is a downside risk, but there are major opportunities from fuel-cell vehicles, hydrogen, and given PGMs’ unique qualities, the broader energy transition,” said AngloPlat.

At the moment Zimbabwe has three PGMs producing companies. In addition to Unkie, there also are Zimplats and Mimosa.

According to the latest World Platinum Investment Council’s (WPIC) report,  Zimbabwe’s platinum production is projected to grow by 5 percent this year to around 500 000 ounces driven by ongoing project development by existing producers.

The country is estimated to host the world’s second-largest platinum group metals resource, after South Africa.

Zimbabwe envisions growing its mining to a US$12 billion industry by 2023. PGMs are expected to contribute US$3 billion with production expected to jump from about 979 000 ounces in 2018 to about 2,5 billion ounces annually in 2023.

Gold, diamonds will contribute US$4 billion and US$1 billion respectively, while 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.

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