'Zim platinum output to rise 21pc'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's platinum output is expected to rise 21,5 percent to 13 tonnes this year from 10, 2 tonnes produced in 2013, according to the Zimbabwe Economic Analysis and Research Unit (Zeparu).

In its report titled “Mining Policy Study” unveiled on Monday, the think tank said the increased production is set to generate at least $750 million for the country compared to $500 million earned last year.

This comes as platinum producers are battling to increase their output to reach at least 500 000 ounces required to construct a local platinum refinery.

The platinum group metals producers — Anglo’s Unki, Mimosa and Zimplats — have already submitted proposals to mining authorities, which will see the multi-billion dollar project take off.

The refinery construction is part of President Robert Mugabe’s administration’s push to have minerals, particularly platinum and diamonds, processed locally.

The Chamber of Mines has indicated that as much as $5, 3 billion is required to meet output targets and build the refinery.

Zimbabwe, which has the world’s largest known platinum reserves after neighbouring South Africa, also has ambitions to expand gold mining.

The nation plans to raise annual gold output to 50 metric tons in the next five years, becoming one of the top five producers in Africa, according to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.

Zeparu said “gold production, which reached an average of 14 tonnes last year raking in more than $800 million, is projected to increase to 18 tonnes at a value of $900 million depending on the international global prices for the yellow metal.”

The mining sector contributes about 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Nickel production was at 7, 8 tonnes fetching $110 million last year and is expected to reach 10 tonnes at a value of $235 million by December 2014, notes the study.

The study says Zimbabwe also has the potential of earning $800 million annually if it locally cuts and polishes its rough diamonds.

Economic analysts say if key challenges such as inadequate capital and energy supply constraints are solved, the country can derive maximum benefits from the industry.

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