Darwendale Mining Project Viable

GLOBAL mining engineering firm, DRA South Africa, has confirmed viability of the $400 million Darwendale mining project, ranking it among the top platinum group metal ventures in the world.

A banking feasibility study conducted by DRA showed that the project, by its indicators, joins the top list of global PGMs producers and was able to maintain high profitability in cyclical market environments. The BFS allows starting the detailed design and construction of Stage 1 of the mining and processing complex with a capacity of 3,36 million tonnes of ore per year.

Construction will take about 2 years. The total investments required to make operational Stage 1 of the project are estimated at $400 million. To date, an industrial yard and infrastructure have been established at the deposit, enabling commencement of its development and large-scale phase 1 geological exploration programme has been performed.

Great Dyke Investments chief executive Igor Higer said after ramp up to full capacity, the project will double the PGMs production in Zimbabwe and will enter the top five rank of the world’s PGMs suppliers.

“So, the BFS confirmed that the Darwendale project is one of the most efficient in the industry in terms of CAPEX and OPEX, owing to shallow dipping ore body with a high degree of mineralisation and geological continuity, and an attractive metals basket, given the planned revenue structure, where about 60 percent account for platinum.”

Mr Higer said last week the Darwendale project had all necessary infrastructure: power transmission lines, railways and roads, water resources and convenient location, only 65km from the capital Harare and not very far from refining plants in South Africa.

The PGMs project strategy in general envisages phased establishment of mining and processing complex with a smelter for mining and processing up to 10 million tonnes of ore per year, Mr Higer said. It also entails construction of in-house concentrator and smelter able to produce about 860 000 ounces of 4E in converter matte annually.

The joint venture, Great Dyke Investments, is between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and a Russian consortium made up of three corporations, including a national bank. The Russian consortium is made up of VI Holdings, Rostec, a technology partner, and Vnesheconombank, the financier. The JV with Government represents its biggest venture with foreign entities.

Investment is expected to reach $4,2 billion over the next 10 years, as there are plans to set up a refinery to promote value addition, a key pillar of Zim-Asset, Government’s medium term economic blueprint.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said in July last year that a total of $53 million had been invested in the project by Government’s the Russian partner in platinum mining project. Minister Chinamasa said the platinum resource at the Darwendale site was of high grade, pointing that at 3,2g/tonne it was is favourable.

Zimbabwe has three producing platinum mines; Impala Platinum owned Zimplats, Sibanye’s Mimosa Mining Company and Anglo American’s Unki Mine, which have total output of about 480 000 ounces annually.

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