Anglo American Platinum on Thursday commissioned a $62 million smelter at its Unki Mine in Shurugwi, as it seeks to meet local value addition and beneficiation commitments. The custom-designed, cost-efficient smelter is sized to meet Unki’s current production and retains the capability for later upgrades to meet future increased mine production.
President Mnangagwa officially opened the smelter at Unki Mine in Shurugwi.
The scope of the facility is the primary smelting of Unki concentrate to produce a furnace matte, which is crushed on site and transported to the Anglo American Platinum Converter Process Facility in Rustenburg (South Africa) for further processing.
Unki Mine chairman James Maposa, said this was a strategic investment for the group that is expected to enhance efficiency and increase Unki’s contribution to the group’s total production. The mine remains a key contributor to Anglo American’s production figures.
In the year to December 31, 2018 Unki had a record performance with production reaching 192 000 ounces of platinum group metals (PGM), which was 16 percent above prior year.
Its strong performance together with other units, helped push the global mining giant’s overall figures for the year.
“The Unki smelter is a strategic investment for our company and will increase our processing capacity significantly. Unki has heeded Government’s beneficiation call, a key pillar of Zimbabwe’s goal to create value, employment and accelerate industrial development from its mineral resources.
“Anglo American Platinum acknowledges that we have a responsibility to contribute to the country’s economic and social development, and to ensure that our contribution addresses key national priorities,” he said.
Government has encouraged mining firms to establish refineries in the country and proposed a 15 percent tax on raw platinum exports in 2013.
This is expected to promote value addition, job creation and more foreign currency from export of processed minerals as opposed to their raw format.
Mines and Mining development Minister Winston Chitando has commended the development, which is expected to earn the country more foreign currency from sale of processed minerals, boost employment as well as infrastructure.
He said: “Government commends the efforts made by Unki and Anglo American Platinum on this enormous investment. Local beneficiation of PGMs has a positive socio-economic effect, therefore we need to pay sustained attention to this.
“The establishment of this smelting facility will result in reduction in the amount of PGMs concentrate being exported, the development of key infrastructure, increased foreign currency earnings and employment for our local people.”
According to the global mining giant, Unki is a strategic investment for the group, who remains a long-term investor in Zimbabwe and the smelter, whose construction was announced in 2015, is an extension of the company’s commitment to local beneficiation of minerals and is in line with the Government’s plans for economic growth in the country.
The furnace heat-up at the smelter started in early August 2018 and it has been ramping-up with the first production of matte at the end of September 2018. The export of crushed matte commenced in mid-November 2018.
Since 2008, Anglo American Platinum has invested more than $500 million in mining and social infrastructure.
Unki Mine has implemented a number of projects in farming, sanitation, water infrastructure, economic development, employment, roads infrastructure, and capacity building.
The mine has worked together with local Government, community leaders and NGOs to contribute to community needs: from housing and infrastructure to healthcare, education and recreation.