Zimbabwe platinum miners appease Mugabe with refinery plans

Platinum miners in Zimbabwe have dodged a potential crisis by submitting "concrete plans" for a platinum refinery ahead of a government deadline, state media reported on Sunday.

The government had told the country's three platinum producers – Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki – to submit plans for a major refinery plant in order to reduce the amount of raw material exported and boost domestic production.

President Robert Mugabe's government has threatened to ban exports if the refinery isn't built within two years. The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is now evaluating the plans.

“They have made a commitment that they will continue to support Zimbabwe and the setting up of a platinum refinery is one of their aspirations," Mines Minister Cde Walter Chidhakwa told the Sunday Mail. "This shows that we no longer have any hurdles. So, the road is clear now for us to achieve our dream of adding value to our minerals.”

The cost of the refinery is estimated to be over $2 billion. However, a spokeswoman for Zimplats told state media that the country's current power supplies would not be able to meet the demands of a refinery.

"The national power authorities would also need to invest in power and creating more capacity," the spokeswoman said.

Zimbabwe has the world's second largest platinum reserves after South Africa.