Johannesburg - Zimplats Holdings, a unit of the second-largest platinum producer, will begin developing a mine in Zimbabwe next month to replace output from depleting shafts.

The Portal 5 mine isn’t an expansion of Zimplats current operations “but a replacement for previously mined out areas,” Johan Theron, a spokesman for parent Impala Platinum Holdings, said in an e-mailed reply to questions.

The development is due to be completed in 2019, he said.

Platinum miners in Zimbabwe last month pledged $100 million to build a refinery to meet government demands to process metal in the country rather than abroad.

Construction will start in July, Chamber of Mines President Alex Mhembere said May 23.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said April 23 a proposed law requiring foreign and white-owned companies to sell or cede 51 percent of their shares to black Zimbabweans would be eased.

Zimplats, 87 percent-held by Impala, is ramping up annual platinum output in Zimbabwe to 270,000 ounces a year by 2015 and plans to spend another $144 million, the parent said in its annual report for the year to June.

The unit produced 198,000 platinum ounces during the 2013 fiscal year, the report said.

The Portal 5 mine will sustain “production into the future,” Theron said. - Bloomberg News