Dec.20 - Zimbabwe, which has some of the world's largest platinum reserves, says it's willing to let foreign-owned mining firms own majority shares in their local platinum operations if they build a refinery in the country. Ciara Sutton reports.
It's got the world's second largest known platinum reserves, but mining companies send the raw product to neighbouring South Africa for processing. Now Zimbabwe says it's willing to let foreign-owned platinum mining firms own majority shares in their local operations - if they build a refinery in the country. Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa says if producers establish a 2 billion US dollar refinery, the government would allow the mines to own more shares. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ZIMBABWE MINISTER OF MINES, WALTER CHIDHAKWA SAYING: "So much equipment, so much investment has been put here, which has enabled the company to export platinum matte, which is made up of up to 10 different minerals... bears testimony to the fact that we can in fact establish a base metal refinery, we can in fact at some point establish a precious metal refinery." The government says there's room for negotiation with mines, pointing to a deal in 2010 that allowed the African unit of India's Essar Group to own 54 percent of Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company. Zimbabwe reportedly produced 350,000 ounces of refined platinum in 2012, which is six percent of world production It says that output needs to rise to 500,000 ounces a year to justify a refinery.