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Setbacks for Zimbabwe’s Platinum Group Metal (PGM) Industry as Implats Postpones Key Projects


Zimbabwe’s ambitions for a Platinum Group Metal (PGM) beneficiation plant face uncertainty as the country’s largest PGM producer, Impala Platinum (Implats), delays the refurbishment of the Selous Base Metal Refinery (BMR). Implats, the owner of Zimplats, cites the postponement as a response to the softening commodity prices, jeopardizing not only the refinery project but also other initiatives, including a significant 185MW solar plant.

Despite Zimplats’ positive performance, with a 9% increase in 6E production and a 10% boost in sales to 320,196 ounces during the six months leading up to December 2023, declining metal prices have driven the PGM miner into losses. Implats had announced a substantial US$1.8 billion expansion plan in 2021, representing the most considerable investment commitment in Zimbabwe for years. However, the company now faces project delays as an 88% drop in group profits during the December half-year has led to a reassessment of financial priorities.

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Implats clarified that the sulfur-dioxide abatement and smelter expansion project at Zimplats would be strategically managed to cope with cash constraints. The Selous Base Metal Refinery (BMR) refurbishment is deferred, and phases of the 185MW solar project are also postponed. The sulfur dioxide plant is now scheduled for a 2028 start, and the base metal refinery project has been deferred beyond the five-year planning window.

A new smelter at Zimplats is set to be completed in May, after which the company will curtail spending, aiming to transition the asset into free cash flow generation. The postponements signal challenges for Zimbabwe’s PGM sector, emphasizing the impact of market dynamics on strategic industry developments.


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