IMPALA Platinum's subsidiary in Zimbabwe, Zimplats, is consulting with government and other stakeholders on the establishment of refinery facilities in the country, an official with the company has said.
Platinum mining companies have submitted their refinery set up plans to government in line with a directive issued by President Robert Mugabe stating that all such companies must construct a precious metal refinery within two years or face a ban on raw exports of the mineral.
The setting up of a refinery plant has been touted as an initiative which should have downstream effects for industry and employment in the communities.
Zimplats head of corporate affairs Busi Chindove told Standardbusiness that discussions have been ongoing for some time now with the other platinum producers in the country sharing ideas with government and other stakeholders on the establishment of such facilities.
"We fully appreciate the need for and are keen to participate in local beneficiation and to this effect, we have submitted our plan for government's consideration through the ministry of Mines and Mining Development," she said.
Anglo American Platinum (Amplat's) local unit Unki and Mimosa mine have also submitted their plans to government.
Experts argue that Zimbabwe would need to raise platinum output to at least 500 000 ounces per year from the Chamber of Mines' 2012 estimated 350 000 ounces per year output to make the setting up of a refinery possible.
The cost of the refinery is estimated to be in the range of US$3,2 billion.
Ore mined in the previous financial year was 4,79 million tonnes and from this, the company produced 198 104 ounces of platinum.
Chindove said the company's US$491 million Phase 2 expansion programme has seen a number of local businesses thriving as a result of the expansion, as suppliers of goods and services and contractors for building and electricals.
"Despite the subdued performance of the local manufacturing industry, in the financial year ended June 2013, 64% of total expenditure was on local suppliers. Zimplats continues to work with local suppliers so that the bulk of its purchases are localised," she said.
She said the company has worked closely with local suppliers, such as two small-scale silica mining companies, Starlack Enterprises and Dostaro to provide technical support and capacity building, enabling the companies to supply Zimplats with silica for its operations.
As a result of the business co-operation, Starlack Enterprises has since diversified its commercial interests to include commercial agriculture from proceeds of the sale of silica.
Zimplats's current major operations include the Ngezi mining operations which consist of three mines and one more which is under construction. It also has two concentrators in Ngezi, and the Selous Metallurgical Complex, which comprises a concentrator and smelter.
As part of its corporate social responsibility, the company built a 35 000 mega litre dam and put up a massive housing development project, among other related infrastructure.
In the past 12 years, Zimplats has spent almost US$209 million on social development programmes.
Government has identified value-addition across all sectors of the economy as key measures towards the success of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).
According to Zim Asset, the value addition and beneficiation strategy is anchored on the private sector taking a key role in the funding and execution of the activities contained therein with government providing the necessary support in terms of alignment, consistency and cohesion of policies that include among others the mineral development policy.
"The success of the value addition and beneficiation cluster is dependent on the availability of key enablers that include energy, water, transport and ICTs," the economic blueprint states.