Zimplats achieve two million fatality free shifts

HARARE – The mining sector in Zimbabwe contributes immensely to the economy, it being the main source of foreign currency for the country’s coffers.

While the safety performance of mines has improved over the years and significant reductions in fatality rates have been accomplished, mining still ranks second amongst industry sectors for leading fatality rates.

As such, it is essential that employers in the mining industry equip their workers with the best health and safety training.

Mine safety is achieved through the identification and minimization of hazards that include environmental and equipment-based factors. Today, miners rely on a combination of safety practices and equipment to improve caution, provide warning, and ensure protection from harm.

Key occupational safety and health conventions, such as the framework of Convention No. 155 on occupational safety and No. 161 on occupational health services should be considered as minimum standards.

In its quarterly activities report for the period ended 31 March 2022, Zimplats, the country’s largest platinum miner, revealed that it achieved two million fatality free shifts.

The miner is one of the country’s three platinum producers in Zimbabwe, along with Unki and Mimosa Mine. The southern African nation is home to the world’s second biggest known deposits of platinum after South Africa.

By definition, a LTI is an injury sustained by an employee that causes a loss of productive work time.

An injury is considered an LTI only when the injured worker is unable to perform regular job duties, takes time off for recovery, or is assigned modified work duties while recovering, according to safeopedia.

 However, two LTI, including a fatality, were reported in the period under review.

“On Wednesday, 23 March 2022, Mr Dean Nyamurenje, an artisan assistant, was fatally injured while working on a conveyor belt,” said the miner. “

The second lost-time injury for the quarter occurred at Mupani Mine.” The miner’s intense focus on safe roduction cross the group continues, with the implementation of longer-term safety and cultural interventions a strategic priority.

It said the two accidents are a significant setback to our journey towards zero harm.

“They did, however, follow a 12-month period in which the team delivered an improved and fatality free operating result.

“Implementation of remedial action plans from the accident investigations is ongoing and Zimplats remains committed to the restoration and maintenance of a safe working environment for all its stakeholders including employees and contractors,” reads the report.

The miner continues to promote meaningful engagement with all our stakeholders, as part of the safety improvement journey and in the development of our safety culture.

Turning to production, the company’s 6E (platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and gold) output rose 8% to 148 541 ounces from 137 093 ounces in the comparable period. In the same vein, 6E was up 6% when compared to the previous quarter.

6E head grade improved marginally to 3.40g/t from 3.39g/t.

6E metal in the final product increased by 6% to 148 541 ounces from the prior quarter and increased by 8% year-on-year.

As of the financials, inflation on major production inputs saw total operating cash costs climbing by 3% from the prior quarter. A total of US$4.3 million was transferred from opening stocks to operating costs during the period as a result of the smelting of concentrates stockpiled during the routine furnace taphole inspection shutdown in the prior quarter. This resulted in the cost of metal produced rising by 8% versus the prior quarter.

Volume gains partly offset inflationary pressures and resulted in a 2% increase in unit cost from US$735/oz to US$752/oz. Year-on-year unit cost increase of 6% reflected the mitigating benefit of higher production volumes on the 15% cost increase.

A total of US$0.9 million was spent on exploration projects, with a further US$1.8 million committed as at 31 March 2022. Exploration activities included mineral resource evaluation, comprising approximately 5 740 metres of surface diamond drilling over existing projects on the two mining leases. Exploration activities increased geological and geotechnical confidence in production schedules, according to the company.

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