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SA miners in Zim encounter headwinds

Mar 06 2015 14:25
Memory Mataranyika

Mineworkers in Zimbabwe. (Memory Mataranyika)

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Harare - Mining productivity in Zimbabwe is declining as operators there - including units of Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP], Anglo American Platinum [JSE:AMS] and Rio Tinto - grapple with low commodity prices and a challenging operating framework.

Zimbabwe has vast mineral resources spanning gold, platinum, chrome and coal among others.

However, miners there have struggled with the operating environment which has seen some companies shelve expansion projects, according to industry executives. The government is increasing demands on miners in the form of newer fees and taxes.

Titus Matute, chairperson of the Zimbabwean parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy, said on Friday that the government wants more beneficiation beyond diamonds and platinum.

"Between 2013 and 2018 we need to see several diamond cutting and polishing centres in Zimbabwe. We expect to realise similar gains with platinum and other minerals," Matuke told a meeting of mining industry executives and government officials in Harare on Friday.

The government and mining houses such as Impala Platinum's local unit Zimplats have drawn swords over a levy on unbeneficiated platinum exports until miners set up refinery facilities inside the country.

READ: Platinum groups bank on Implats’ Zim refinery investment

Zimplats CEO and Chamber of Mines president Alex Mhembere said work had started and was in progress with regards to the refinery issue.

In order to realise more gains from the government’s bid for enhanced mineral beneficiation, Zimbabwe should look beyond the mining industry and consider other investors that are not in mining.

He said the Zimbabwean mining industry was also suffering low exploration, which was contributing to continued decline in mineral productivity. More exploration would feed into new mines and expansion of existing operations, other mining experts attending the indaba said.

"There is low exploration. A number of gold and ferrochrome companies continue to face viability challenges while key minerals such as platinum and diamonds continue to record decline in output," he said.

The government should also focus on fixing its fiscal framework and work towards creating an enabling environment to attract further investments, Mhembere added.

"We need to focus on enabling policies and a new fiscal framework for the mining industry. This enhances our ability to attract investments."

zimplats  |  zimbabwe  |  mining  |  platinum


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