14 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Implats Unaware of Land Seizure

Impala Platinum Mines says it has not been informed of the land seizure from its Zimplats subsidiary, announced by Mines Minister Obert Mpofu on Tuesday.

In a statement earlier this week Mpofu said the government had repossessed 27,948 hectares of land from Zimplats, with immediate effect, and they had offered it to other investors.

Mpofu said: "Zimbabwe has not realised significant value from the platinum sector beyond the traditional statutory payments. We can no longer continue having our minerals refined outside the country."

The minister ruled out the question of compensating Zimplats for the seized land, saying: "You can only compensate for land that has been bought. The ground belongs to Zimbabwe and there cannot be talks of compensation when the land belongs to you."

Mpofu argued that Zimplats occupies two thirds of the Great Dyke but was only using one twentieth of their claims. He said the ministry will exercise its prerogative to repossess and reallocate all "idle ground" as a way of stopping speculative behaviour.

The latest move will be particularly surprising to Implats, coming hard on the heels of an agreement with Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere just last month.

Implats CEO Terence Goodlace had hoped the agreement, terms of which are expected to be finalised in June, would enable the company to get on with their business.

Under this agreement, the company will transfer 20% of Zimplats shares to employee and community trusts and 31% to a state-run National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.

Responding to Mpofu's statement, Implats said it had not been notified of an intention to seize its land, nor told about it.

"We are unaware of it and we are trying to get clarification, but with no joy," spokesman Bob Gilmour told South Africa's Business Day on Tuesday.

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