Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter
Demand for platinum is expected to shoot after Unki Mine’s parent company, Anglo American Platinum and Platinum Group of Metals launched a next generation battery technology that uses platinum and palladium.
The new venture, Lion Battery Technologies, is expected to boost the development of battery technologies using the precious minerals.
In line with this, Lion, has entered into an agreement with Florida International University to further advance a research programme that uses platinum and palladium to unlock the potential of Lithium Air and Lithium Sulfur battery chemistries to increase their discharge capacities and cyclability.
According to Anglo, this new generation of lightweight, powerful batteries has the potential to grow to scale on the back of the attractiveness of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and the use of lithium batteries in other applications beyond mobility.
The development is expected to boost demand for platinum, which Zimbabwe is a major source, accounting for the world’s second largest reserves after South Africa.
Commenting on the latest development, Anglo American Platinum executive head of market development Benny Oeyen said: “This exciting early-stage technology aligns with our broader strategy to bring new technologies to market that will help us secure future demand for the platinum group metals we mine and pave the way to a more sustainable energy future.
“Our commitment to market development is underscored by our relationship with AP Ventures, of which we are a cornerstone investor and who is a potential investor in this technology as it matures.”
Anglo American Platinum is a member of the Anglo American plc Group, the world’s leading primary producer of platinum group metals. The company is listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) with its mining, smelting and refining operations based in South Africa and owns Unki Platinum Mine in Zimbabwe.
In May this year, the group commissioned its US$62 million smelter at its local unit- Unki Mine in Shurugwi as it seeks to meet local beneficiation commitments.
The custom-designed, cost-efficient smelter is sized to meet Unki’s current production and retains the capability for later upgrades to meet future increased mine production.
During the first quarter to March 31, 2019, platinum group metals (PGMs) production at Unki reached 43 300 ounces representing a 5 percent decline during the same period in the prior year.
The decline was mainly due to additional 2018 first quarter production mined from ore stockpiles. Normalising for this impact, production at Unki was flat.
Platinum and palladium production fell 6 percent to 19 300 ounces and 4 percent lower to 17 000 ounces.
Quarter on quarter, production at Unki was 13 percent below the 49 000 ounces recorded during the previous quarter (to December 31, 2018).
Overall, the group’s total PGM production decreased 6 percent to 998 900 ounces. Platinum and palladium production went down 5 percent to 471 900 ounces and 6 percent to 326 600 ounces. This came after normalising for the transition of Sibanye-Stillwater material to a tolling arrangement from January 01, 2019 which equated to 115 700 platinum ounces and 58 100 palladium ounces in the 2018 first quarter.
Total production was 3 percent lower compared to the previous quarter which recorded 1 million ounces of total PMG.