13 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Zimplats CEO Says Miner Safe From 15pct Levy Requirements

Zimplats says it is already compliant with Zimbabwe's beneficiation requirements and will not be affected by the imposition of the punitive 15 percent levy on unprocessed platinum exports from next year, according to chief executive Alex Mhembere.

The southern African country proposed the levy in 2013 in a bid to push platinum miners operating in the country to establish smelting and refining facilities locally. The tax was supposed to come into effect in January 2015 but was pushed to 2018 to allow the miners time to set up the facilities.

Mhembere told The Source on Wednesday that Zimplats produces white matte, which is refined from concentrate, as such the company will be exempted from the levy, he said.

"Zimplats produces a product that is different from concentrate, we produce white matte which goes from a concentrate, we take it through the smelter and then through another stage that produces this white matte, which is an import. So the regulations as they stand at the moment, are looking at a product that is not an import," he said.

Zimplats has to date invested $30 million in upgrading its smelter to improve its product, he added.

Last month, Gerhard Potgeiter, group executive for growth projects at South Africa's Impala Platinum (Implats) said the miner could shut down its 50 percent owned Mimosa mine near Zvishavane if government goes ahead with plans to impose the levy which he said will make the mine unviable.

Implats co-owns the mine with Sibanye, another South African miner.

Mhembere also said Zimplats had made 'tremendous' progress on its Mupani mine project which is scheduled to come online in 2025.

Output from the mine will replace the Rukodzi and Ngwarati mines whose resources are expected to deplete in 2022 and 2025 respectively.

"We have already progressed quite tremendously... . in 2025 we will be in full production," Mhembere said.

"Mupane mine is a very important project that we have embarked upon. So for us to maintain the same level of production, we have to (be) ready when the lifespan of those mines comes to an end."

Preliminary work on the Mupani Mine project started in June last year.

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