A Zimplats operation in Zimbabwe. File picture: Supplied

Harare - Impala Platinum says the future and sustainability of mining operations in Zimbabwe is dependent on sustainable platinum group metals (PGM) prices, economic policies that are conducive to further investment and growth favourable public-private partnerships after the government moved to finalise the takeover of excess land from Zimplats.

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The mineral-rich country has demanded that Impala Platinum’s unit in the country, Zimplats, give up as much as 27 000 hectares of mineral claims in the country. Zimplats also jointly owns Mimosa mine together with Sibanye Gold.

“The future success of the PGM industry in Zimbabwe will be determined by global financial factors (PGM supply and demand), economic policies in Zimbabwe (incentives for large-scale mining investment), and collaborative public-private partnership,” Implats spokesman Johan Theron said.

The government, through President Robert Mugabe’s office, has filed papers at the Administrative Court in Harare to finalise this. This comes after stalled progress in engagements between the government and Implats since 2013.

“We have unfortunately not been able to reach agreement (on negotiations for the release of ground with the government), but remain confident that through continued constructive engagement we could secure terms and conditions,” Theron said.

Concerns

Other mining executives charged that Zimbabwe was asking producers to give up excess mining ground despite”little to no development” of mining leases given up earlier, raising concerns over the sincerity of the state’s statements that the extra leases would be given to new mining investors.

Zimplats had already given up about 36 percent of its land leases in Zimbabwe in 2006 in return for empowerment credits.

“We have seen almost no development/investment by these parties to date - there may be good reasons for this, but I am not aware of any meaningful development,” a mining executive said last week.

The government was struggling to justify the takeover of excess land from mining firms, with officials saying they were enforcing a “use it or lose it” policy.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidakwa said in an affidavit filed together with papers seeking the takeover of Zimplats’ land claims that the leases would be used for economic development.

“Compulsory acquisition of the land is necessary for economic growth,” he said.

The court papers also state that the land is in excess of requirements of Zimplats, which is the country’s biggest mining house.

BHP Billiton initially started a big platinum mining project in Zimbabwe, but it failed to take off, with Zimplats subsequently securing “extended mineral rights under a special mining lease to develop and grow PGM mining in Zimbabwe”.

Zimbabwe has also asked chrome producers to give up excess land, with the Mining Ministry notifying Zim Alloys that it was taking over its excess land without further notice.

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