Platinum refinery: Miners seek private investors

HARARE - Zimbabwe's platinum miners are seeking private investors’ partnership in building a refinery in the country.

This comes as the platinum group metals (PGM) producers submitted proposals and working documents to government on the back of escalating pressure from the authorities and a threat to ban raw exports of the metal, if they don’t construct the refinery.

President Robert Mugabe’s administration is aggressively pursuing a beneficiation programme in the extractive sector, targeted at processing minerals, particularly platinum and diamonds locally.

John Chikombero, Chamber of Mines chief executive, told businessdaily that miners, in conjunction with the Institute of Mining Research, will next month hold a symposium aimed at attracting private investors.

“We would be glad to get investors who are willing to inject capital in the building of the refineries. I believe this should not be left to miners alone but anyone with the capacity is welcome to do so,” he said.

Zimbabwe — holding the second largest known platinum reserves in the world — has its platinum processed in neighbouring South Africa.

Construction of the refinery is expected to cost at least $2 billion.

Chikombero noted that the symposium, to run from February 27 to 28 in the resort town of Victoria Falls, will provide a platform for open dialogue on the status of local mineral beneficiation in the country.

“There is need to create common understanding on beneficiation and its importance, and to review technical, economic and financial considerations around local mineral beneficiation,” he said.

The symposium will, among other things, also discuss the contribution of mining to Zimbabwe, review of the mining fiscal regime and how to optimise the system for more revenue and productivity and potential linkages between mining and other sectors.

Economic experts say the absence of a local refinery has resulted in the loss of revenue and job opportunities for the country.

However, the Chamber has said the country would need to raise platinum output to 500 000 ounces per year to justify a refinery.

Apart from the increasing platinum output, efficient running of the refinery would also require reliable power supply.

PGM producers operating in Zimbabwe include Zimbabwe Platinum Mines — 87 percent owned by Impala Platinum Holdings, Anglo American and Aquarius.

Zimbabwe is trying to boost the value of its exports as it seeks to kick-start the recovery of its economy, which contracted by 40 percent between 2000 and 2008 as political disputes repelled investment and pushed the inflation rate to the highest in the world.

In December last year, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government would from this month levy a tax on unprocessed platinum, but it did not give a figure.

Comments (1)

It is unbelievable how dumb members of the government are! The crass stupidity shown in the way the land issue has been dealt with, the company seizures and asset stripping which comes in the guise of indigenisation and now these same idiots want to know why the mining sector cannot grow and generate the revenue expected!! They have hamstrung the very companies that they want to perform with the ridiculous royalties, forceful handing over of shares at no cost (theft) and taking of funds which are not theirs as part of compensation (theft). They then demand 51% of an investment that is not earned and wonder why there is just no new investment coming in and the compnies that are here are just stagnating and dying as the outside parent company is very understandably not going to keep pumping their funds into a business that someone else is reaping the lions share of profits from! Plain criminal idiocy!

Sabi - 30 January 2014

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