GWERU — The government has hinted it will soon craft laws to stop platinum miners from exporting the unprocessed mineral after realising it is losing revenue and jobs to South Africa.
Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu said the government was worried about loss of revenue and pilferage of other minerals, which are extracted as by–products from platinum in the refinery process.
He said he would soon approach Cabinet with a law that would force platinum miners to set up refineries in the country.
“They should start setting up refineries before we force them to do so,” said Mpofu. “If they don’t do it on their own then I will be formulating laws that will stop the exportation of concentrates to South Africa,” said Mpofu.
The minister dismissed as mere excuses by major miners of platinum like Zimplats, the notion that quantities of minerals being extracted from Zimbabwe did not make it viable for them to set up refineries.
“They know they are stripping us and making more profits by refining our minerals in South Africa where they have created jobs from our resources,” he said.
“Platinum is not even the major mineral. You get seven other minerals in the process like gold, vanadium and many others, which we do not tax them for. That should stop,” said Mpofu.
A mineral expert at Unki Mine, who refused to be named, said the company could be making more money from by-product minerals extracted in refining platinum than from platinum itself, saying Mpofu was correct in trying to force the companies to refine the mineral locally.
“The minister is correct. There is more money to be made from the by-products than the platinum itself. There is more gold, for instance. When exporting these minerals are not taxed by the government.
“Further, government has no way of keeping tabs on the exact platinum produced in South Africa. Tax is on estimates,” said the expert.
Recently, the government moved to thwart exports of raw chrome being moved out of the country, mostly by Chinese miners who bought it at very low prices.