Implats threatens to close Mimosa mine

Implats threatens to close Mimosa mine
Published: 15 September 2017 (1088 Views)
IT'S "crunch time" for Impala Platinum's (Implats')  Mimosa mine which is under threat of closure as it cannot not comply with Zimbabwe's beneficiation laws and remain profitable.

The Harare government has passed legislation that obliges platinum miners operating within its borders to build a local refinery or pay a 15% levy on concentrate exports.

"It is crunch time as we would rather park the resource than post losses," said Gerhard Potgeiter, group executive for growth projects at Implats.

"This is a clear stance between ourselves and Sibanye-Stillwater," he said.

The two companies have a 50% share each of Mimosa which profitably produced a record 121 600 ounces of platinum concentrate in Implats' 2017 financial year.

Potgeiter said the company had recently completed a feasibility study on the smelter and found it unaffordable.

Nico Muller, CEO of Implats, added that there was no intention to "make war on government" and that the company would give the Robert Mugabe administration time to make a decision.

"There are certain realities that we need to face as businessmen. We either make money or not. If we are only making money to pay taxes, then that is not going to work.

"But we want to give them time to change decision on export levy."

The 15% levy comes into effect in 2018.

Meanwhile, a proposal accepted verbally by the  government to role out new technology that heavily cut the cost of building a smelter and refinery was unlikely to be a short-term solution.

"I'm not saying it won't be possible one day," said Muller. "We are supportive of Zimbabwe's beneficiation drive," he added.

Alex Mhembere, CEO of Zimplats in which Implats has an 87% stake, said the technology was applicable to smaller operations.

"It is probably years out and would most likely only apply to smaller operations such as Mimosa and Unki [the Anglo American Platinum, Amplats] mine," he said.

- miningmx

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