Moti’s ACF restructures, suspends operations

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TAURAI MANGUDHLA 

One of Zimbabwe’s major chrome producers, African Chrome Fields (ACF), has temporarily suspended operations as the company embarks on a restructuring exercise.

Information at hand shows ACF produced 10,5 tonnes of chrome in January and 15,6t in February, but no production figures were recorded at the mine for March and April.

According to latest figures obtained from the Ministry of mines, other major producers Apple Bridge and Zimasco produced a monthly average of 20 tonnes and 18,8 tonnes in the four months respectively.

ACF national project liaison director Ashruf Kaka told Business Times the group was currently restructuring the business model to withstand current economic pressure in Zimbabwe.

“We are restructuring the mining operation to make it more efficient, compact and more profitable to withstand the erratic economic and financial turbulence in Zimbabwe,” Kaka said.

“Adaptation is what is required and that is what we doing in the planned restructuring.”

ACF is a joint venture between the Moti Group and Sakunda Holdings. In January, the Moti Group warned the operating environment in Zimbabwe had become challenging.

“The Moti Group’s existing investments in Zimbabwe remain a priority and we are proud of everything our team has achieved in the last 12 months across our various projects and in spite of the challenges within the economic environment,” the group told Business Times.

“Like any business, we must adapt to external factors beyond our control, but we are working hard to stick to our original production targets.”

“We look forward to sharing some updates from our aluminothermic plant and from the pilot scheme of Zimbabwe Motivation Mining as the environment on the ground improves.”

Between January and April, chrome production volumes totalled 531 78,5 tonnes, valued at US$ 73,9 million. Major chrome producers are Zimasco, African Chrome Fields and Apple Bridge.

Zimbabwe plans to more than double chrome ore and high carbon ferrochrome production between now and 2022  to 3,1 kilometric tonnes (kmt) and 950 metric tonnes (mt) respectively figures obtained from minerals marketer MMCZ show.

Chrome ore figures closed 2018 at 1,3kmt while high carbon ferrochrome production stood at 365mt. The local industry looks set to achieve targets of 1,9kmt for chrome ore and 419mt for high carbon ferrochrome in 2019, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe general manager Tongai Muzenda said recently.

Muzenda said high carbon ferrochrome production in Zimbabwe had been on decline since 2002, reaching its lowest levels of just 74,000 mt in 2009 following the global financial crisis.

Meanwhile, the country’s three platinum miners produced a combined 4 598kg of platinum in the first four months of 2019, led by Zimplats which accounted for more than 60 percent of total volumes at 2762 kg, the Ministry of Mines figures show.

Platinum production is expected to grow significantly by 2024 with the coming in of two players. Government recently approved a multi-billion platinum mining deal with Bravura with exploration already underway using latest technology. Another deal, which is yet to take off under Todal, is being reviewed and expected to also ramp up volumes. The
Todal deal was initially expected to be sealed by end of this week.

Government is also pursuing a strategy to grow mining earnings to US$12bn by 2024 from the US$3,2bn realised last year. The 2024 projections, according to Mines Minister Winston Chitando, will have 25 percent contributions from platinum.

Mimosa produced 1 211kg of platinum while Unki produced 634 kg of Platinum.

Zimplats produced 2 293kg of palladium while Mimosa and Unki produced 952,6 kg and 556 kg respectively amounting to as consolidated 3 802kg.

In terms of revenues,  PGMs totalled US$316m for the four months under review led by platinum which platinum racked in US$108,7m with ZImplats contributing US$65,7m, followed by Mimosa at US$29m and Unki at US$14m.

Palladium revenues from the three producers stood at   US$148,3m.