Platinum giant, Zimplats says its nickel output would surpass production at the country’s largest nickel miner Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) in the next five years, as prices remain bullish on the international commodities market, a company official has said.
Raw platinum, which has about 10 minerals in it, is exported in the form of matte to South Africa, where the product is then processed to separate the 10 minerals.
Currently, annual production of platinum in matte form is 180 000 ounces,
145 000 ounces of palladium, 20 000 ounces of gold, 16 000 ounces of rhodium, 3 100 tonnes of nickel and 2 200 tonnes of copper.
Zimplats vice-chairperson Muchadeyi Masunda told NewsDay on Monday that production of nickel was expected to grow within the next five years as the group ramped up production.
“Nickel output at Zimplats is expected to grow 10 times more than at BNC within the next five years,” Masunda said.
“A lot depends on what happens on the London Metal Exchange (LME). I lose more sleep when I see prices on the LME (fluctuate).”
BNC last week announced plans to float a $21 million rights offer in an effort to resume operations at Trojan Nickel Mine.
The nickel miner posted an after-tax loss of $12,7 million for the full-year to March 2012 compared to a loss of $16,4 million recorded during the previous year.
The integrated nickel miner went into care and maintenance in 2008 and management estimates the cost of restarting Trojan Mine to be around $33 million.
Last month the African Development Bank (AfDB) advised the government to move in and resume operations.
Commodity prices have shown great signs of recovery in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, on the back of resuscitated demand particularly from the Asian markets.
The nickel price in particular, has recovered from below $9 000 per tonne in 2008 to $18 000 per tonne in 2012.
“The price of nickel warrants that the government of Zimbabwe takes a keen interest in the reopening of the Bindura Nickel Corporation underground activities, so that the Bindura smelter and refinery start operating at full production level,” reads part of the AfDB report.