Zimbabwe is well on course to becoming one among the few countries in the world to establish a base metal refinery, a key component that furthers value addition of the country’s platinum.
It is a project that will positively impact on the economic development of the country, while also enhancing the value of the mined platinum.
So far, South Africa, America and Russia are the only countries that have such facilities and Zimbabwe’s base metal refinery will be the 6th platinum base metal refinery in the world.
A project being undertaken by the largest platinum miner, Zimplats, the refinery will be completed at a total cost of US$131 million with revelations that US$23 million has so far been used to purchase equipment to set up the refinery plant in Selous.
This development is a huge statement of intent towards value addition and beneficiation of the country’s minerals, a central part of the economic thinking on industrialisation and development that formed part of the agenda when SADC heads of state met for an industrialisation summit in Zimbabwe 2015.
The finalisation of this project will create a further 100 jobs at the firm, while it will also contain costs incurred from toll fees charged for refining convertor matte, a process which is done in South Africa.
While the value of the platinum and other 9 minerals will remain the same, the establishment of the base metal refinery still remains a critical development to support local beneficiation and with it comes various opportunities which other stakeholders can start developing on.
The equipment to ensure the reality of this project is already on the ground, but in the teeth of depressed metal prices which have affected earnings for the firm, implementation of the project will be dictated by the cash flows available.
It is a huge step to value adding on the country’s platinum, but with enough investments and capital support, the country can still aspire to reach further beneficiation through the next stage of precious metal refinery.