The Herald (Harare)

19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Government Insists On Platinum Refinery

PLATINUM mining companies in Zimbabwe should next year put efforts towards establishing a local platinum refinery, a senior Government official has said.Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary Mr Prince Mupazviriho made the call at the signing ceremony between Government and representatives of Mimosa last week for the transfer of a 51 percent stake in the firm to local entities.

Mr Mupazviriho said Mimosa Holdings had demonstrated exceptional commitment to ensure full compliance with Government policy on indigenisation, but said firms needed to do much more.

"I have been talking to the chairman of the Platinum Producers' Association of Zimbabwe, Mr Herbert Mashanyare. We want to go beyond what they (Mimosa) have done now. We want to ensure that the Government and the people of Zimbabwe get full benefits from the platinum industry," said Mr Mupazviriho.

"To do that, we want to get to a stage where we have a platinum refinery in Zimbabwe. This is something that in 2013 we must work frantically to make sure that we achieve," Mr Mupazviriho added.

Mimosa chief executive Mr Winston Chitando said the mining firm had built a world-class plant renowned for efficiency, productivity and safety standards.

He said that the company had implemented community and employee share ownership trusts, invested extensively in community social projects and in uplifting the safety and welfare of its workers.

But Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, speaking at the Mimosa Holdings shareholding transfer signing ceremony last week, said:

"That is as it should be."

Minister Mnangagwa, acknowledging the extensive investment the firm had made, expected all mining companies to invest in areas that ensured locals benefited the most, including value addition processes.

It remains to be seen how platinum-mining companies would respond, but earlier the platinum firms said the decision to do that made economic sense.

According to the Platinum Producers' Association of Zimbabwe, the refinery would require US$2 billion to set up.

Zimbabwe currently has three active platinum mines, namely Zimplats, Implats, Unki while two others, Todal and Ruschrome, are still developing mining capacity.

Platinum production is projected to increase by 6 percent to 360 000 ounces this year following the expansions and coming on line of Anglo Platinum's Unki Mine.

This level of production, according to platinum producers, falls below the 500 0000 ounces widely regarded as the threshold for establishing a refinery in the country.

Since the country does not a have a refinery most of the metal mined in the country is processed in South Africa, which deprives Government's potential tax revenue because of unprocessed exports.

This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe has the world's second biggest known platinum reserves after South Africa and should realise the full benefits.

Local platinum producers currently pay toll treatment fees for their platinum to be refined in South Africa.

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