Platinum giants vie to mine in Zim

Zimbabwe has started assessing submissions by companies including the local units of Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum to build metal refineries in the country.

"It’s pleasing that they have submitted the plans and they are now being looked at," Deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo said in a telephone interview. He wouldn’t comment on how long the review of the plans would last.

The country's platinum producers were compelled to submit their plans to construct base-metal refineries by January 17, according to a January 3 letter to producers, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. Producers would be required to send their ore to the plants.

Zimbabwe, which has the biggest platinum reserves after neighbouring South Africa, produces 430 000 ounces of the metal a year, the document shows. The country's platinum industry needs as much as $5.3-billion if it is to expand to more than 500 000 ounces of output and to construct refineries to process platinum group metals and industrial metals extracted from the same ore bodies, according to its Platinum Producers Association.

Mimosa Platinum, a Zimbabwean venture jointly owned by Aquarius Platinum and Impala Platinum, said it expects to reach an agreement with the government after filing plans for a refining plant.

Mimosa response
"We sent in our responses to government and I think something will be agreed on," Winston Chitando, Mimosa Platinum's executive chairperson, said on Monday in a telephone interview from the capital, Harare. "There are no indications when we will get a response, but obviously we will continue to talk and engage the government."

Zimbabwe's largest platinum miner, Zimplats, 87% owned by Impala, said it has also filed plans. "We confirm that Zimplats has submitted a response to the letter from the Ministry of Mines inviting the company to participate in the establishment of refining facilities for platinum group metals in Zimbabwe," Busi Chindove, a spokesperson for Zimplats, said in an e-mailed statement. The producers' association said it will issue a statement later.

Anglo American Platinum’s Unki operation made its submission on January 17, chief financial officer Collins Chibafa said by phone, declining to disclose details of what was submitted. – Bloomberg

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