Miners agree to platinum refinery

HARARE — Platinum mining companies have agreed to build a refinery in Zimbabwe after initially saying it would not be economically viable, the government said on Friday.

“They have pledged commitment,” Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told a mining conference in Victoria Falls.

“I am told they are going to co-operate.”

Zimbabwe has entreated platinum producers to build a refinery to raise the value of its exports and drive economic recovery.

An agreement would mark a change in stance from the Chamber of Mines’ producers group, which said last month the platinum industry needed as much as $5,3billion to meet output targets and build refining units.

Two companies are being considered to construct the plant, Mines minister Walter Chidakwa said on February 18, without naming them.

Anglo American Platinum, Aquarius Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings — the biggest miners of the metal in Zimbabwe — have declined to comment on the shortlisting process. Their local units would be compelled to send ore mined in the country to the facility.

Asked what kind of refinery was discussed and under what conditions Implats would consider another big capital investment in Zimbabwe, CEO Terence Goodlace said: “The expression of interest letter sent out (by the government) in January referred to base metals and precious metals. We are not at liberty to talk too much about what we are discussing, but from a conditions perspective, there are opportunities for us.”

Zimbabwe, with the world’s largest-known platinum reserves after SA, also wants to expand gold mining. It plans to raise annual output to 50 metric tonnes within five years, to be one of the top five producers in Africa, Chinamasa said.

—BD Live

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