Platinum houses commit to Zimbabwe refinery

Harare - Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and other producers of the metal in Zimbabwe were committed to the country’s plan to build a refinery, they said yesterday, easing concern that they would face a ban on exports.

Processing platinum group metals domestically “definitely makes economic sense”, the Zimbabwean Platinum Producers Association, which represents the mining companies, said yesterday. “We are committed to this initiative,” it said.

Producers submitted plans to build refinery units to process raw platinum after President Robert Mugabe’s government threatened them with a ban on exports if they failed to complete a plant by the end of the year.

Zimbabwe, which has the biggest platinum reserves after South Africa, is seeking to keep more revenue from the industry inside the country.

The processing units that would make up a refinery would require as much as 150 megawatts of electricity and other basic infrastructure, the association said.

Zimbabwe produces 430 000 ounces of platinum a year, according to a government document. The industry needed as much as $5.3 billion (R58bn) if it was to expand output to more than 500 000 ounces and build refineries to process platinum group and industrial metals extracted from the same ore, the association said.

Only Amplats, Implats and Aquarius Platinum produce in Zimbabwe. Todal, part-owned by Eurasian Natural Resources, is developing a mine shaft. – Bloomberg