ZIMBABWE’S capital intensive mining sector requires $5,3 billion and predictable policies to stimulate platinum output, the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CMZ) has said.
According to a report seen by this paper, CMZ said more investment is needed in the platinum mining sector to outpace Russia as the world’s second-biggest producer of the white metal.
Zimbabwe currently has the second largest known platinum reserves after South Africa.
Experts say underfunding and limited exploration has over the years stifled growth of the mining sector, now the mainstay of the economy after overtaking agriculture.
Mining contribution to gross domestic product has grown from an average of 10,2% in the 1990s to an average of 16,9% from 2009–2011.
“It’s evident from 2017 onward Zimbabwe’s production of platinum will be approaching that of Russia,” the chamber said. “This growth projection, however, requires significant investment.”
The chamber said to increase production to the targeted 500 000+ ounces per annum requires setting up of base and precious metal smelters and refineries.
Investment of $2,8 billion is needed in mines as much as $2 billion in processing plants and between $200 and $500 million to ensure adequate power supply.
Already, the country’s major platinum miners — Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa that are currently processing the metal in neighbouring South Africa — have undertaken to construct the refinery.
Official figures show that last year Russia produced about 800 000 ounces Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer Zimplats, has invested over $30 million in carrying out a study for the establishment of the first-ever platinum group of metals refinery in the country.
Zimplats, a unit of South Africa’s Impala Platinum, is a platinum group of metals mining company that currently operates three underground mines and a concentrator at Ngezi as well as the Selous metallurgical complex, which comprises a concentrator and a smelter.
Platinum mines are this year targeting nearly 365 000 ounces of the precious metal, but experts say investment has been affected by the indigenisation and empowerment regulations which compel foreign-owned companies to sell 51% stakes to locals.