Godfrey Marawanyika

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

“It is pleasing that they have submitted the plans and they are now being looked at,” Deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo said yesterday. He would not 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 last Friday, according to a January 3 letter to producers, who would be required to send their ore to the plants.

Zimbabwe, which has the biggest platinum reserves after South Africa, produces 430 000 ounces of the metal a year, the document shows. The country’s platinum industry needs an injection of as much as $5.3 billion (R57.5bn) 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 Implats, said it expected to reach an agreement with the government after filing plans for a refining plant.

“We sent in our responses to government. I think something will be agreed on,” Winston Chitando, Mimosa’s executive chairman, said yesterday. “There are no indications when we will get a response, but we will continue to talk and engage the government.”

Zimbabwe’s largest platinum miner, Zimplats, 87 percent owned by Implats, said it had 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 spokeswoman, said.

Amplats’ Unki operation had made its submission on Friday, chief financial officer Collins Chibafa said, declining to disclose details.

The producers’ forum said it would issue a statement later.

Implats rose 1.12 percent yesterday, and Amplats added 0.69 percent. – Bloomberg