South African platinum players turn to Zimbabwe

South Africa's Business Day reports platinum producers in the country are looking to Zimbabwe to boost output as domestic production tumbles to levels last seen more a than a decade ago.

The platinum industry in South Africa is responsible for more than 70% of global output but has been battling illegal strikes and labour unrest, mine shutdowns, safety issues, heightened bureaucracy and rising costs.

Doing business in Zimbabwe which is emerging from a decade of economic blight is not an easy undertaking either.

The government of Robert Mugabe imposed indigenization policies which require majority ownership of all mines complicates large foreign investments and operators are also face rising costs.

Unki Mines, a subsidiary of Anglo American Platinum which is now majority-owned by locals, said that its new mine can potentially double the company's output in Zimbabwe. Unki is projected to produce roughly 65,000 oz of platinum this year.

Unki CFO Colin Chibafa said that the new mine could cost up to $400 million to develop.

Meanwhile, Impala Platinum's Zimbabwe unit anticipates completing the second phase of a mine expansion project in 2015.

The expansion is expected to substantially boost Zimplats' production to 270,000 oz.

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