Govt courts metal refinery investors

Source: Govt courts metal refinery investors – Sunday News Oct 23, 2016

Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government is courting potential investors willing to set up a special metal refinery plant as it forges ahead with its efforts to ensure the country fully realises the value of its mineral resource through beneficiation, a senior Government official has said.

Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga said the Government was seeking an investor with expertise to exploit and refine all minerals found within the Platinum Group Metals.

The Government has ordered platinum mines to come up with plans to construct a platinum refinery in the country and avoid exporting the mineral in its raw form.

The companies rail their platinum to South Africa for processing prejudicing Zimbabwe of potential revenue and jobs. At one time, the Government threatened to either close the platinum companies or impose a heavy tax to force the companies to construct a refinery.

“We as Government had requested that the existing companies proceed to go all the way to the refinery for precious metals.

Zimplats are the ones that have a smelter to produce a nut but they are investing in production base metal, base metal refinery but there is nothing in plan for the precious metal refinery.

“Therefore Government is looking at other potential investors that are willing to go all the way. There are certain discussions that we can’t go into detail about pertaining to who might want to go all the way. We have to satisfy ourselves with the process of due-diligence but it’s quite possible,” said Prof Gudyanga.

Zimplats, the country’s largest platinum company has reached the final stages of the modification and refurbishment of its Base Metal Refinery at its Selous Metallurgical Complex, a project which is estimated to cost about $134 million. Prof Gudyanga said a joint venture between the Russian and Zimbabwean Government — Great Dyke Investments was about to complete its exploration activities for the setting up of a $1 billion platinum project in Darwendale.

The project will be implemented in three phases with the first stage running between 2015 and 2017, mainly involving exploration and establishment in infrastructure such as roads. The second phase will involve the opening of two underground mines and a smelter and this is expected to take about five years. Between 2022 and 2024, the company will set up a refinery.

“The Russians have a concession, a special mining lease in Darwendale. They are finishing their exploration and then they will go into concentrate and smelter but their plans are not of immediate refinery to the level that we expect. Russia is also a platinum producer, I think their plan is to take final production over there, which is what we don’t want. We want full beneficiation in this country but yes, they can do that just like other refineries,” said Prof Gudyanga.

The pursuit for a beneficiation and value addition policy by Zimbabwe also falls in line with African Union’s vision that African countries should be more than ever before, benefit more from its natural resources to change the face of its socio-economic landscape, which has generally been dubbed agenda 2063.

To that end, Botswana and South Africa have in the past few years been incrementally working at legislation to ensure their economies benefit more value added mineral export in what has helped grow the industry and guarantee the future of the firms.

Government feels there is no justification in the $1,7 billion revenue, on average that the country grosses from raw minerals per year yet value addition has potential to increase such value by a factor of 25 percent or more depending on the extent of beneficiation.