via Platinum miners, Zim govt. to meet as pressure mounts over refinery – Mineweb by Tawanda Karombo 08 Jan 2014
Zimbabwe’s government has called for expressions of interest from platinum miners in order for them to build a refinery within the country.
Platinum miners in Zimbabwe are scrambling for a way out of a potential crisis occasioned by the government’s insistence that they set-up a refinery inside the country and are set to meet on Thursday.
If a resolution is not reached, the miners could well be risking a subsequent ban on raw platinum exports by the beginning of next year.
Mining officials told Mineweb on Wednesday that platinum miners’ representatives are expected to lobby the government for more time and argue against the levying of a 15% levy on raw platinum exports which took effect on January 1.
The government has written to platinum mining companies, which include units of Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Aquarius Platinum, advising them to submit plans on how they intend to build a metals refinery. The representations are expected to be made during Thursday’s meeting between government and mining officials.
Chamber of mines chief executive officer, John Chikombero confirmed the meeting on Wednesday after state media in Zimbabwe quoted Deputy Mines and Mining Development Minister, Fred Moyo, saying the government had scheduled a meeting with mining officials on Thursday.
“We are always meeting government. Obviously we are going to meet them (on Thursday), especially after the issue of budget (which proposed the levying of the 15% tax on platinum shipments),” Chikombero told Mineweb in a telephone interview.
However, he would not say how much impact the 15% levy on raw platinum exports would have on the mining industry, saying he was focused on the meeting with government officials on Thursday.
Alex Mhembere, the chief executive officer of Zimplats said in emailed responses last month that “platinum producers are in discussions with the government and local research institutions on a sustainable solution to local beneficiation”.
Mpumi Sithole, Anglo Platinum’s spokesperson, would not comment on issues in Zimbabwe – were the company runs the Unki mine – saying the group was in a closed period ahead of its results on February 3.
The government this week wrote to platinum mining companies, inviting them to “put forward an expression of interest to establish the refinery on your own or as lead company in concert with other companies”.
The meeting will also discuss other pressing issues such as high mining fees. Platinum royalties at 10% are considered to be high compared to other countries.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Professor Francis Gudyanga, said in the letter to platinum miners that all metal producers in the country would be required to process their produce through the beneficiation plant set up by the Zimbabwean miners.
“Once the refinery plant is established all the producers in the country will be compelled to send the PGMs concentrate to this facility for toll refinery in support of such investment,” he said.
Zimbabwe is desperate for increased revenue and job creation through the establishment of a beneficiation plant to offset a mounting economic crisis that experts say could spiral out of control.