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Govt shortlists two firms for platinum refinery

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GOVERNMENT will soon announce the winning bidder for the establishment of a platinum refinery in the country, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has said. The plant will see the refinement of platinum being done locally in line with Government’s policy advocating for value addition and beneficiation of minerals.

Minister Chidhakwa told The Herald yesterday that players in the platinum industry had recommended nine companies, which they had cut down to two.

He, however, declined to name the two companies saying only the winning bidder would be announced.
“We have shortlisted two but one is needed for the job and we are working on that,” Minister Chidhakwa said.

“This comes after Government gave an ultimatum to players in the sector to submit proposals for the development of a platinum refinery plant that will enable value addition and beneficiation of the precious metal.”

Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki — the three platinum producers in the country — submitted concrete plans to set up a refinery last month.
The plant should be operational by 2016. Minister Chidhakwa said a number of factors had been considered in screening the companies.

“We were looking at what the companies were offering in terms of their proposals, chief among the technological and technical experience in the mining sector, particularly refining,” he said.

“We looked at their ability to raise funding for the project since it is a big project.
“We should have a project that is financially viable and impact positively on the social sector in terms of job creation and other benefits.
“The road is clear now for us to achieve our dream of adding value to our minerals.”

The platinum companies — according to the plans — intend to set up a major refinery within the next two years. They will also work with other local firms to explore the possibility of processing ore at existing smaller refineries and establishing a new smaller processing plant.

Government is pushing the mining companies to build a refinery in order to unlock value from local platinum concentrate. Authorities are also seeking to increase transparency and accountability in the handling of the several minerals produced from platinum.

In view of the volatility characterising mineral prices on the global market, analysts contend that the need to value-add metals has become more critical to neutralise the impact.

Zimbabwe, which produced about 430 000 ounces of platinum last year, accounts for the second largest known platinum reserves in the world after South Africa.

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