A Zimplats operation. File picture: Supplied

Johannesburg - South Africa's Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) and Zimplats' board have approved the development of the $264 million Mupani Mine, which will increase the Zimbabwe unit's mineral reserves, the company said on Wednesday.

Implats said in a statement that the mine has a design capacity of 2.2 million tonnes per annum by 2025 and will increase Zimplats' mineral reserves by 3 million ounces to 9 million ounces of platinum.

The first mining teams will be deployed in January 2021.

The mine will employ 1 000 full-time employees at full production and will be financed through Zimplats' internal resources.

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Zimplats CEO Alex Mhembere said the mine will ensure that the Zimbabwe unit maintains production of 260 000 ounces of platinum per annum.

“This investment is an important development for Zimbabwe and will provide much needed support to the local economy at an extremely difficult time, reinforcing our commitment to sustain and grow our investments in the country,” Mhembere said.

Platinum mines are under pressure from President Robert Mugabe's government to refine the metal locally as the southern African nation seeks to derive more value from its minerals.

Zimplats ships its platinum matte for further processing at refineries in South Africa.