Govt warns platinum firms on smelter deadline

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MINES Minister, Walter Chidakwa has accused some platinum mining companies in the country of not taking seriously a government directive for the speedy setting up of a platinum refinery.
Chamber of Mines president and Zimplats CEO, Alex Mhembere, said on Monday afternoon that the mining industry was seized with issues that needed to be addressed.
He conceded that the decline in mining had to be addressed, stressing the need for an environment that would help stimulate production increase in the sector.
“This presents a challenge. There are issues that are designed to stimulate production in mining which the chamber annual general meeting will discuss,” he said.
Such issues include mineral beneficiation and value addition as well as “attraction of foreign direct investment”.
Mining groups such as Zimplats, an investment of world number two platinum producer, Impala Platinum, is battling the government in the courts over “tax penalties and the review of the interest on … tax liabilities”.
However, the government, desperate to milk as much money and boost employment in the country, has turned to the sector.
Chidakwa said there was no going back on indigenisation, especially “in the resources sector” where the mineral resource constitutes the “contribution to the business” of local Zimbabweans.
“It is important that they (mining companies) realise the importance of what we are saying. I would not want to see a situation such as happened in chrome where we have banned exports,” he said.
Platinum miners have until the end of next year to set-up a refinery inside Zimbabwe.
A levy on raw platinum exports has already been imposed and Chidakwa’s statements that the government will proceed with a ban on exports is likely to be the source of intense discussion at this week’s chamber indaba, whose accompanying conference will also be attended by government officials.
It has also emerged that despite intense discussions and closed door meetings between the mining companies and the government, no solid position has yet been reached by the two parties regarding the establishment of a refinery.
The chamber has lined up government and World Bank officials as well as mining executives and other experts to tackle issues at the conference which starts on Thursday in Victoria Falls.Advertisement