HARARE Jan 8 Zimbabwe has given platinum mines
a Jan. 18 deadline to submit proposals to build a precious metal
refinery after President Robert Mugabe last year threatened to
ban raw exports, state media reported on Wednesday.
The ultimatum would affect the world's two largest platinum
producers, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum
Holdings (Implats), which both have operations in
The southern African country has the second-largest known
platinum reserves in the world and the government last year gave
miners two years to set up a refinery in the country or face a
ban on raw exports of the metal.
Busi Chindove, spokeswoman for Implats' local unit Zimplats
, confirmed to Reuters that her company had received a
letter from the government to submit its plans for a platinum
refinery, but would not give details.
Zimplats owns a base metal refinery that separates minerals
like nickel, chrome and copper from platinum metal groups but
says the plant is out of action because outdated technology
makes it too expensive to run. It sends platinum concentrate to
neighbouring South Africa for processing.
The state-owned Herald newspaper said mines ministry
permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga had written to Zimplats,
Anglo American's local unit Unki, and Mimosa mine, which is
jointly owned by Zimplats and Aquarius Platinum Ltd, to
submit refinery plans.
"Once the refinery is established all the producers in the
country will be compelled to send the PGMs (platinum metal
group) concentrate to this facility for toll refinery," the
paper quoted Gudyanga as saying in the letter.
Gudyanga was not immediately available for comment on
In December Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the
government would from January levy a tax on unprocessed
platinum, part of efforts to force mines to set up a refinery in
the country, but it did not give a figure.
The Zimbabwe chamber of mines has said the country would
need to raise platinum output to 500,000 ounces a year to
justify a refinery.
The chamber says Zimbabwe produced 350,000 ounces of refined
platinum in 2012, about 6 percent of world output.
The chamber estimates that the refining facility would cost
at least $2 billion, or about a fifth of the country's gross
domestic product, to build.