File photo: Supplied

Johannesburg - Impala Platinum, the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal, said it will close the largest mine of its Zimplats unit after safety conditions deteriorated since a collapse underground in July.

Impala will likely lose as much as 70,000 platinum ounces in the year through June 2015, or 4.4 percent of output in the 2013 fiscal period, through the closure of the Bimha mine, which is 150 kilometres south-east of the capital Harare, the Johannesburg-based platinum producer said.

It isn’t yet able to assess the outlook for the mine, Impala said.

“Production from the other three mines is not expected to be affected,” the company said in an e-mailed statement today.

Fleets from Bimha have deployed at other assets “to mitigate production losses.”

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum reserves.

Its output has increasingly been seen as a partial replacement for metal from South Africa, where output plummeted because of a five-month strike by more than 70,000 mineworkers that ended in June.

South Africa produces more than two-thirds of the platinum extracted globally.

Impala, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin account for most of that output. - Bloomberg News