By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
14 January 2014
Impala Platinum (Implats) has moved to downplay the issues facing its Zimbabwean subsidiaries, despite reports that its recent share price drop was linked to problems there.
The company has faced a 10% fall in share price over the past week, allegedly because of the ongoing fight about the building of a local platinum refinery. The Zim government has threatened to halt all raw exports of platinum, stating that a refinery had been promised by the platinum mining firms operating in the country.
According to the Associated Press (AP), platinum companies were last week given 10 days to submit proposals for the new refinery, which the government has demanded be built by the end of this year.
But Implats corporate relations manager Alice Lourens was quoted by the Business Day newspaper as saying said no deadline on this deal had been imposed.
“I don’t know where this story is coming from. We have received a nicely worded invitation to participate in discussions around beneficiation.”
Quoting an “authoritative platinum industry source,” Business Day reported that political pressure is being applied “but the situation is fluid with the Zimbabwean government as much over a barrel as Implats may be.”
Implats and the American Amplats are understood to have opposed the proposal from the beginning saying a local refinery was not sustainable under current production levels and would cost billions to establish.
But the new ZANU PF led government, still reeling from a disputed 2013 election victory, has carried the threat forward into 2014. A new export levy on all raw platinum exports was proposed by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa in his budget statement last month, and companies are expected to pay the 15% levy as of this month.