* Government says value lost through semi-processed exports
* Reclaims some ground from companies to 'curb speculation'
* Industry says current output does not justify refinery
By Nelson Banya
HARARE, Feb 12 Zimbabwe's government told
platinum producers on Tuesday to start refining the metal
locally within two years, placing a further requirement on an
industry already forced to surrender majority shares to locals.
Producers would probably struggle to meet the new goal as
refineries are very costly and can take several years to build,
especially as Zimbabwe is suffering from a skills shortage.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told reporters Zimbabwe wanted to
derive more benefit from the resource by having a refinery in
the country rather than having metal refined in South Africa.
"For some time the country has not realised significant
value from the platinum sector beyond the traditional statutory
payments," Mpofu said.
"Consequently, the ministry has decided that beyond two
years, it will stop processing exports for semi-processed
platinum products. This is expected to give way for companies to
begin channelling resources towards value addition through
establishing a PGM (platinum group metals) refinery in the
Zimbabwe has the world's second-largest known platinum
reserves behind neighbouring South Africa, which sits on about
80 percent of the white metal used for make emissions-capping
catalytic converters in automobiles.
Zimbabwe has long pressed the platinum industry to build a
refinery. The sector has said it has long-term plans to so but
the current output of below 300,000 ounces annually does not
justify the expense, estimated at $2 billion.
The world's top two producers, Anglo American Platinum
and Impala Platinum, both have operations in
Both Amplats and Impala recently signed off 51 percent
stakes in their Zimbabwean operations to local black investors
under a controversial empowerment law championed by long-ruling
President Robert Mugabe.
Mpofu also announced the government would reclaim some
ground from mining companies, to be given to new investors in
He said this move was meant to curb the holding of mining
rights for speculative purposes and would start with the
repossession of nearly 28,000 hectares of land from Implats'
"Following protracted discussions on the release of excess
ground, my ministry is taking a step forward to repossess excess
ground from Zimplats, measuring 27,948 hectares," Mpofu said.
(Editing by Ed Stoddard and Anthony Barker; Editing by Anthony