South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday the company along with chemical company BASF and Impala Platinum have developed a new tri-metal catalyst that would enable partial substitution of palladium with platinum.
Sibanye says the new catalyst will reduce catalytic converter costs and partly alleviate palladium deficits.
Palladium has largely been in short supply with soaring prices of the metal. The fact that it can now be replaced or alternated by Platinum means a significant reduction in the cost of production and stabilizes production which has been hamstrung by low supply.
The development would also benefit Zimplats and Mimosa, Zimbabwe’s leading platinum producers whose matte is processed in South Africa.
This is not the first time that Sibanye and Impala have worked together as they are joint owners of Mimosa Mine in Zimbabwe in a 50:50 venture. Mimosa is located on the Wedza Geological Complex on the Zimbabwean Great Dyke, 150 kilometres east of Bulawayo.
Mimosa comprises a shallow underground mine, accessed by a decline shaft, and a concentrator. Mimosa contributes 8 percent to Impala Group’s platinum production.
Implats also has 87 percent controlling stake in Zimplats, Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer which is situated on the Zimbabwean Great Dyke and operates four underground mines and a concentrator at Ngezi. The Selous Metallurgical Complex (SMC), located 77 kilometres north of the underground operations, comprises a concentrator and a smelter. It contributes 18.1 percent to the Group’s platinum production.
In the 2019 financial year, tonnes milled at Zimplats shed off 1% in 2019 to 6 486kt from 6 570kt tonnes produced in 2018. Zimplats also has exploration projects which include Ngezi South and North, Hartley Platinum and Selous.
Zimbabwe is the world’s third-largest producer behind South Africa and Russia respectively. In 2019, Platinum was Zimbabwe’s largest forex earner having contributed 43% to Zimbabwe’s forex receipts of US$4.3 billion.
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