HARARE, October 17 (The Source) – The Chamber of Mines has called on government to defer the proposed 15 percent export tax on unrefined platinum, saying producers of the metal will not be able to meet the January 2017 deadline to set up refineries and process it locally.
Government made the proposal back in 2013 to compel platinum mining companies to invest in smelting and refining capacity in Zimbabwe. The tax was supposed to come into effect in January 2015 but was pushed to 2017 to allow platinum producers more time to set up the facilities.
But platinum miners are reeling from weak metal prices, currently about 10 percent lower on a year-on-year basis and 40 percent down on peaks reached in 2011.
Currently, all three platinum miners which operate in Zimbabwe – AngloPlats’ Unki, Impala’s Zimplats and Mimosa a joint venture between Sibanye Gold and Impala, send their matte for refining in South Africa.
Zimplats is nearing completion of construction of its base mineral refinery while Unki had plans to construct its facilities approved by the Environmental Management Agency in June. Mimosa, on the other hand, has said that its operation is too small to sustain its own refining facility but would work with other mines over time to put one in place.
Chamber of Mines chief executive Isaac Kwesu told a parliamentary committee on Monday that the January 2017 deadline is not realistic given conditions on the ground.
“Government should reconsider the 15 percent export tax on unbeneficiated platinum. A lot of effort and progress has been reported by platinum producers. They have agreed on an implementation road map and ministry of mines are happy so we look forward that they be given another grace period to consolidate what they are working on,” he said.
Platinum is the country’s second largest contributor to mineral earnings after gold. Zimbabwe is believed to hold the world’s second-largest platinum reserves after South Africa.