HARARE— Platinum mining companies in Zimbabwe — including units of Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Aquarius Platinum — are to meet officials on Thursday to discuss an ultimatum that they set up a local metals refinery.
Failure to set up a refinery in Zimbabwe, which has the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum after South Africa, could attract the government’s full wrath, including a threatened ban on the export of raw metals.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last month proposed a levy on raw platinum exports during his budget presentation. This week officials added that raw metal shipments would attract a 15% levy, with effect from the beginning of this month.
The country is increasingly looking to the mining sector for revenue, although subdued metal prices could dent any growth prospects for the industry. The 15% levy will, in effect, raise Zimbabwe’s platinum royalty regime to about 25%.
Walter Nemasasi, GM at Unki platinum mine, which Amplats runs, said platinum mining companies had no option but to comply with paying the 15% levy on raw platinum exports.
“There is nothing we can do. This is a law which has been made and we have to comply with a law which has been made,” he said.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines CEO John Chikombero would not comment on the effect the 15% levy on platinum exports was likely to have on the mining industry in Zimbabwe.
Analysts told Business Day on Wednesday that the costs would be significant.
The Platinum Producers Association in Zimbabwe has previously said that output should reach 500,000oz a year to sustain a refinery.
Production for last year had been projected at 360,000oz.
It is now expected the platinum mining companies will seek more clarity during the meeting on Thursday from government officials on the 15% levy, the refinery and the mineral fees regime.
Busi Chindove, the spokeswoman for Implats’ Zimbabwe unit Zimplats, said her company had received a letter from the government inviting mining groups to submit their plans for a refinery. “I can confirm that we did receive the letter. It was not immediately clear whether executives of mining companies would attend the meeting,” she said.
State-owned media in Zimbabwe on Wednesday quoted Deputy Mines and Mining Development Minister Fred Moyo as saying the government had set up the meeting with platinum mining company officials.
Mining industry officials confirmed that they had been informed of the meeting.
But they said the meeting was likely to be between government officials and Chamber of Mines executives.
In the letter to the mining companies, the permanent secretary of mines and mining development, Francis Gudyanga, said mining companies had to present representations on the setting up of a refinery.
After the refinery is set up, the government would require all metal producers in Zimbabwe to beneficiate their output there.
Further, the platinum mining companies would be tolled for using the beneficiation plant, Mr Gudyanga said.
The government wanted the refinery project completed by the end of this year.
“Once the refinery plant is established all the producers in the country will be compelled to send the PGMs (platinum group metals) concentrate to this facility for toll refinery in support of such investment,” Mr Gudyanga said.