Walter Nyamukondiwa in SELOUS
PLATINUM mining giant Zimplats has shelved the $131 million refurbishment of its Selous base metals refinery (BMR) to pave way for a national refinery to be used by all miners.
The move has been welcomed by Government as advancing its beneficiation and value addition thrust to ensure optimal benefit from the country’s natural resources.
Consultations and a preliminary MoU have been signed by stakeholders in the platinum group metals sector, including Great Dyke Investment, Unki, Zimplats and Mimosa mines.
Plans to build the national refinery are at advanced stage.
During a familiarisation tour of Zimplats’ operations by Mashonaland West Minister of State Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, company MD Mr Stanley Segula said: “In terms of beneficiation, we are fully supportive of Government’s agenda. Our competitors and colleagues in the platinum mining sector are at different stages, they mine, concentrate and then export to South Africa.
“As Zimplats we have a BMR that was set up by BHP. We have spent about $24 million and our body had approved that we spend about $131 million to resuscitate it. However, there is new conversation within the economy to put up a group facility to cater for all other players.”
He said Zimplats was supposed to incorporate other facilities to come up with the national refinery including Empress Mine nickel refinery that would cater for national beneficiation needs.
Mr Segula said the process should take about two years to complete with consideration on available technologies.
“There is an MoU signed with GDI, Unki and Mimosa towards establishment of the national BMR. So after consideration of all the available technologies, which should start moving in that regard,” he said.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura said Government’s beneficiation drive would be significantly covered by the national BMR.
“With the President’s thrust for beneficiation of minerals, it is a huge milestone so that we see our minerals being exported at a higher value for the benefit of Zimbabwe. Currently they are exporting to South Africa at point, where they have to pay for services, and then it is sold at a higher value. It is better that it is done here so that we export at a better value,” he said.
To ensure compliance with local beneficiation, the Deputy Minister said Government could impose punitive taxes on those who export unprocessed minerals and metals.
“We believe because of this tax everyone would want to beneficiate before exporting. As Government we are coming up with means of capacitating the miners so that they set up these refineries in the country,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
He add: “With the coming in of Karo Resources Mining Company and Great Dyke Investment as major players in the platinum mining sector, the country’s mining sector and indeed the country will not be the same again.”
Zimplats is one of the country’s major tax contributors with about $800 million going to Government over the past 16 years.