The phase-one expansion project, approved by the company in May last year, will now cost US$340million – almost a one third increase.
The expansion will enable the replacement of open cast ore and increase yearly platinum production from 97 000 oz to 160 000 oz from financial year 2011.
Zimplats had earlier indicated that it was scaling down its opencast operations and that it expected to close them in April 2008, with the rehabilitation of the open pit continuing until October 2008.
Major shareholder Implats’ mining General Manager, Adrian Hutchings, explained that the cost hike was largely due to the “reconfiguration of the new concentrator” but also said higher steel prices and the value-dwindling Zimbabwean dollar had also contributed to the firm’s plans to increase costs for the expansion programme.
Zimbabwe has the biggest platinum resources in the world after South Africa, but does not produce significant amounts because mining companies are deterred by the political and economic crisis in the country.
The country’s mining sector has of late been gripped by uncertainty following the Zimbabwe government’s resilient efforts to force all foreign owned companies to cede 51% shareholding stakes to local black Zimbabweans.
ZIMBABWE Platinum (Zimplats) plans to increase its output to 203 249oz during the 2008 fiscal year after raising costs for the mine's expansion program by 31%.