Platinum was discovered on Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke in the early 20th century, at around the same time that the metal was found in the Bushveld Complex. However with this said, Zimbabwe has definitely not reached its full potential in terms of platinum mining exploration.
The Hartley mine which opened in the mid-1990s was the first serious attempt at platinum mining in Zimbabwe.
Interest in mining this 550 km long, 12 km wide geological structure has, though, increased in recent years. The four major platinum deposits on the Great Dyke are located in a 3-4 m thick mineralised seam which lies at shallow depths, typically of 250 m or less. The reef is platinum-rich but also has high base metal content, leading to high by-product credits and making mining potentially very economically attractive.
Investment in Zimbabwean platinum mining has been slow up until now. The establishment in 2009 of a cross-party inclusive government in Zimbabwe has given grounds for cautious optimism over the operating environment for the mining industry, but the political situation remains somewhat fragile.
Recent expansions at Mimosa and Ngezi have increased production at both sites. Outline plans have also been developed for Phase 2 expansion at Ngezi – adding 2 million tonnes of ore to output, and for Wedza Phase 6 at Mimosa. If these occur, together with production from Unki, this would make Zimbabwe the world’s third largest producer of platinum as it finally starts to unlock its potential.