Zimplats expected to cede stake

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After weeks of haggling over Zimplats’ indigenisation plan, the matter is set for finalisation today.

Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats), the world’s second largest platinum producer owning 87% of Zimplats, is expected to cede a 29,5% stake to government which will be housed at the National Indigenisation Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB).

The government last week turned down a request by Zimplats to extend the deadline by 30 days.

Implats, the holding company of Zimplats, held a board meeting last Friday in South Africa where the issue of compliance was discussed.

Implats chief executive David Brown on Thursday wrote to Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere advising him of the group’s board meeting and intention to meet the deadline.

“We hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter dated March 6 2012 and note your rejection of our request for an extension of the deadline,” Brown said.

“As such, we now confirm our deadline to be 14 business days from receipt of your notification letter dated February 22 2012, which date shall be Tuesday 13 March 2012. We have a board meeting on Friday March 9 and will, therefore, be able to revert by the deadline.”

Kasukuwere last week told a Press conference his ministry could not continue to tolerate delaying tactics.

“We are accepting Tuesday as the final deadline. We have closed negotiations. When they come on Tuesday they must comply,” said Kasukuwere.

“We will not hesitate to nationalise those companies that do not comply with the law. Those that say there is no nationalisation are just talking in front of their crowds.”

Kasukuwere made it clear that government will not pay for the stake that would be housed under the NIEEB. Zimplats expects its mines to produce platinum for at least 30 years.

Under the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, foreign-owned companies are required to sell at least 51% of their shareholding to indigenous Zimbabweans.

Zimplats chief financial officer Patrick Maseva-Shayawabaya told lawmakers that toured the mine that a platinum refinery would be built in Zimbabwe if production of the precious metal reaches 500 000 ounces a year.

“A refinery will cost about $2 billion and we’re currently producing about 180 000 ounces,” he said. “That needs to increase to about 500 000 ounces to make a refinery commercially viable.”