Zimbabwe’s Platinum Refinery Plan Backed by Amplats, Implats

Jan 23, 2014 8:22 am ET

(Updates with platinum price in last paragraph)

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and other producers of the metal in Zimbabwe said they’re committed to the country’s plan to build a refinery, easing concern they’ll face a ban on exports.

Processing platinum-group metals domestically “definitely makes economic sense,” the Zimbabwean Platinum Producers Association, which represents the mining companies, said in an e-mail yesterday. “We are committed to this initiative.”

Producers submitted plans to build refinery units to process raw platinum after President Robert Mugabe’s government threatened them with a ban on exports if they fail to complete a plant by the end of the year. Zimbabwe, which has the biggest platinum reserves after neighboring South Africa, is seeking to keep more revenue from the industry inside the country.

The processing units that would make up a refinery would require as much as 150 megawatts of electricity and other basic infrastructure, the association said.

Zimbabwe produces 430,000 ounces of platinum a year, according to a Jan. 3 government document obtained by Bloomberg News. The industry needs as much as $5.3 billion if it’s to expand output to more than 500,000 ounces and build refineries to process platinum-group and industrial metals extracted from the same ore, according to the producers’ association.

Only Anglo American Platinum, Impala and Aquarius Platinum Ltd. currently produce in Zimbabwe. Todal, part-owned by Eurasian Natural Resources Corp., is developing a mine shaft, according to the industry body.

Platinum fell 0.2 percent to $1,455.75 per ounce at 3:02 p.m. in Johannesburg today.

--Editors: Alex Devine, John Viljoen