ZIMPLATS, one of the country’s three major platinum firms currently processing the metal in South Africa, is constructing a $100 million base metal refinery at Selous in line with the government’s two-year ultimatum to build a refinery.
The development comes amid concerns that Treasury could be losing millions of dollars as mining companies are exporting unprocessed minerals.
Speaking during the Mashonaland West Zimbabwe Union of Journalists provincial awards ceremony in Chinhoyi recently, Zimplats head of corporate affairs Busi Chindove said work at the refinery started in July and would take 20 months to complete.
“Refinery works has continued unabated, despite the reduced output from Bimha Mine, firmly aligning us with the ZimAsset economic blueprint particularly the value addition and beneficiation aspects,” Chindove said.
“We committed to begin the work in July this year and I am pleased to confirm that we delivered on that commitment. We will keep you advised of progress as it unfolds.”
Zimplats’ biggest mine, Bimha, collapsed earlier this year and was closed in order to safeguard the lives of its employees as well as equipment.
Chindove said they had started redeveloping Bimha with restoration expected to take 36 months.
Platinum is known as a “green” metal because of the role that it plays to reducing negative impacts of carbon emissions and significantly slowing down the effects of global warming.
Platinum is used in the manufacture of auto catalysts or catalytic converters which reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and, therefore, help to slow down global warming.
Over 98% of new cars sold worldwide each year are now fitted with these devices and the motor vehicle industry accounted for 51% of total world Platinum Group Metals (PGM) demand in 2010.
Without auto catalysts, air quality in and around most cities would be far worse than it is today.
An interesting fact is that one car sold in the 1960s used to emit harmful exhaust emissions which are equivalent to those emitted from 100 of today’s cars fitted with catalytic converters.
The reduction in carbon emissions has a direct benefit on people’s health by reducing the amount of harmful gases that people breathe in.
Air pollution in both cities and rural areas was estimated by the World Health Organisation to cause 3,7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.
This figure would be higher without auto catalysts.
So it’s positive that PGMs enable car manufacturers to comply with emissions standards and help regulators to implement tightening emissions regulations.
Beyond the important benefit of cleaner air, PGMs play a vital role at the heart of modern societies.
They are found in numerous products, from computer hard disks to aircraft turbines, from anti-cancer drugs to mobile phones, from industrial catalysts to ceramic glazes, petroleum manufacturing and the production of nitric acids and the production of beautiful jewellery.
Indeed, PGMs play a role in the manufacture of many goods we use on a daily basis.
Numerous applications in which PGMs are involved benefit the environment and our quality of life, such as water purification, N2O abatement and surgical implants, to name a few.
Zimbabwe currently has the second known largest platinum reserves in the world after South Africa.
Experts say underfunding and limited exploration has over the years stifled growth of the mining sector, now the mainstay of the economy after overtaking agriculture.
Mining contribution to GDP has grown from an average of 10,2% in the 1990s to an average of 16,9% from 2009-2011.
Zimplats is the major funder of the Mashonaland West provincial journalistic awards.