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Impala’s Zimbabwe unit mines safe

After shaft collapse which halted production.

Zimplats, a unit of Impala Platinum, is confident that its mines are safe as it examines the cause of a collapsed shaft at one of its operations in Zimbabwe, General Manager Simbarashe Goto said.

The company announced on July 18 that the collapse of an underground shaft had cut output by 50% from the company’s Bimha mine, its largest operation, situated 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of the capital, Harare. No one was injured.

“I am confident that the other mines are safe,” Goto said in an interview at Bimha yesterday. “We don’t believe there is any reason to strengthen the other mines.”

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum reserves and its output has increasingly been seen as a partial replacement for metal from South Africa, where a five-month strike by more than 70 000 mineworkers that ended in June slashed output. South Africa produces more than two-thirds of the platinum extracted globally, with Impala, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin accounting for most of that output.

Impala gained 0.2% to R107.66 by 11:45 a.m. in Johannesburg, paring the drop this year to 12%. Zimplats was unchanged at A$8.2 by the close in Sydney.

The collapse was triggered by the “accelerated deterioration of ground conditions” initially detected in 2011, according to Zimplats. Goto declined to comment on the the value of lost production from Bimha.

The study to determine more precise details about the collapse is being led by a team of experts from South Africa, said Goto. The incident won’t affect a plan by platinum miners in the country to build a refinery to meet government demands to process metal in Zimbabwe rather than abroad, he said.

©2014 Bloomberg News

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