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Unki gets green light to construct platinum refinery

by Munyaradzi Musiiwa
26 Jun 2016 at 18:00hrs | Views

THE Environmental Management Agency has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment for world top platinum producer, Anglo-American Platinum to construct its platinum smelting plant at its Zimbabwean unit - Unki Mine - marking a major progress in efforts to value add the mineral in line with the Government instruction.

The Government has ordered platinum mines to come up with plans to construct a platinum refinery in the country and avoid exporting the mineral in its raw form.

At one time, the Government threatened to either close the platinum companies or impose a heavy tax to force the companies to construct a refinery.

Apart from Unki, Zimbabwe is home to two other platinum mines, Zimplats owned by South African Implats and Mimosa Mines jointly owned by Implats and Aquarius Platinum.

The companies rail their platinum to South Africa for processing prejudicing Zimbabwe of potential revenue and jobs.

In an interview, Unki Mine general manager Mr Walter Nemasase said the EIA was approved last week and the company was now working on other technical issues for the construction of the refinery.

The Shurugwi-based Anglo-American mine had shelved plans of utilising Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys) ferrochrome smelting's plant and converting it into a platinum refinery.

Mr Nemasase said work on the plant is estimated to be completed in 18 to 24 months.

"We have plans to construct a new smelting plant at our mining site. The deliberations have been made. The construction is likely to take 18 to 24 months depending on the flow of capital.

"At the moment we are still working on other technical issues and we will let you know when we will commence the construction of the refinery," he said.

Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo said Zimplats, the country's largest platinum has reached the final stages of the modification and refurbishment of its Base Metal Refinery (BMR) at its Selous Metallurgical Complex (SMC) a project which is estimated to cost about $134 million.

He said the refurbishment of the BRM was in tandem with the Government beneficiation and value addition policy as also adopted in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).

"There are three key stages in platinum refinery and these are concentration, smelting and refining.

"Zimplats are now smelting while Unki and Mimosa are concentrating. In the next few weeks we will have a common position on how these companies are going to go about it. Zimplats are at the stage of finalising their Base Metal Refinery. They are doing this project in anticipation of taking their colleagues on board," said Deputy Minister Moyo.

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