Implats’ Zimbabwe units get waiver on ownership requirements

Zimbabwe agreed to waive requirements that Impala Platinum (Implats) transfers majority stakes in two of its mines to black citizens of the country, the company has said.

Implats won’t be required to ensure that its Zimplats unit or Mimosa joint venture, which operates separately, are 51% owned by locals because of other measures it is implementing, said CEO Nico Muller.

Zimplats, Zimbabwe’s top platinum producer, has sold 10% to employees and is concluding an agreement to sell an additional 10% to communities, Muller said. The producer will get government credit for the remaining 31% from helping to develop local industries and small businesses, he said. The same model will be applied on the Mimosa mine, which it jointly owns with Sibanye Gold.

“At the moment we don’t see it as a threat at all,” Muller said in an interview. “The equity stays. Instead of transfer of ownership, we are achieving that through business development in Zimbabwe. We have agreed on that with the government.”

Zimbabwe has scrapped requirements that majority ownership of mines be reserved for locals for all minerals other than platinum and diamonds. The nation has the world’s second-biggest platinum reserves and producers also include Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top supplier of the metal.

Platinum and diamonds are key exports for an economy that halved in size since 2000 after a chaotic and violent land-reform programme slashed shipments of tobacco, corn and roses. Zimbabwe also holds substantial deposits of gold, chrome, lithium, coal and iron ore.

“So far as equity transfer is concerned, we are done, we are comfortable,” Alex Mhembere, Zimplats CEO, said. “Getting credits, we are well ahead on that. The law is not a big threat anymore and I don’t think its going to be any different in rest of platinum industry.” — Bloomberg

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