Golden Sibanda in Victoria Falls
PLATINUM miming firms have expressed delight at reports that Government intends to lift the 51/49 equity ownership requirements on the platinum mining industry, noting that if promulgated into law, the decision will drive investment into the sector.
Zimbabwe is the third biggest producer of platinum in the world after leader, South Africa, which has annual output of 100 tonnes and Russia, which extracts 21 tonnes annually.
Experts say Zimbabwe, currently constituting 5 percent of global platinum production, has potential to account for 20-25 percent of global platinum group metal output, if it reaches its target of 50 000 tonnes by 2030, as espoused by Government.
Chairperson of the platinum producers and Zimplats chief executive Alex Mhembere told the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe congress in Victoria Falls yesterday that two issues that were of concern to the sub-sector foreign/local ownership were thresholds and beneficiation.
Already, Mr Mhembere said his company was working on development of a new mine, which will result in an investment of US$265 million, a sign of confidence on the firm’s investments in the country.
Zimbabwe has three operational platinum group metal companies, Zimplats and Mimosa Mining Company and Unki Mine, which are controlled by South African mining giants, Implats and Sibanye Stillwater, respectively as well as Anglo-American unit, Unki Mines.
“Two major factors face the sub-sector at the moment; one indigenisation and economic empowerment and the second one is beneficiation.
“Following the review of the policy done by Government last year where the 51/49 policy, indigenisation regulations were scrapped for all the other minerals save for platinum and diamond.
“So we have heard from the media that His Excellency, the President, announced that the same regulations will also be extended to the platinum subsector and we await, wait for that to come into law as it will unlock a lot of potential and opportunities for other players to come into the sector,” Mr Mhembere said.
Government last year scrapped the indigenisation and economic empowerment regulations for all other mining sectors including gold, chrome, coal, nickel and lithium, which for many years deterred foreign investments.
Mr Mhembere said the platinum industry was committed to further investments in Zimbabwe, as exemplified by the US$10 million smelter completed by Unki, which was commissioned by President Mnangagwa last week and Zimplats’ US$265 million expansion.
Mr Mhembere said with several other notable platinum ventures, Great Dyke Investments, Karo Resources, Todal and Global Platinum Resources, set to enter production, Zimbabwe had the key attributes to meet its target of producing 50 tonnes by 2030.
“When these operations come into operation, certainly, the number that has been set of 50 000 tonnes by 2030 will be achievable.
“Currently the country has three operators and we experienced a three percent growth from 14,2 tonnes to 14,6 tonnes,” Mr Mhembere said.
The Zimplats CEO said PGMs account for 30 percent of total mineral output by value, anchoring the country in exports proceeds.