PLATINUM mining companies should demonstrate tangible progress towards building beneficiation facilities for Government to scrap the 15 percent tax on raw platinum exports, a Cabinet minister said.Aquarius and Impala said on Friday they were seeking clarity from the Government over the proposed 15 percent export tax on unrefined platinum which, if enforced, would slash their margins.
Implats controls Australia Stock Exchange- listed Zimplats – Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum miner – while Aquarius is a 50 percent joint shareholder of Implats in Mimosa, the second largest extractor.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa yesterday said he did not want to hear about the miners’ discussions on Government’s policy directive, but what they have done about it so far.
In the absence of tangible and satisfactory progress towards building the platinum refinery, the minister said, Government would simply levy 15 percent on the exports of unrefined platinum.
“If they build the refinery facility, I will be quite happy to recommend to His Excellency the President, the Minister of Finance and Parliament that we revoke the policy position,” he said.
Minister Chidhakwa last week held a meeting with the platinum mining companies during which he told them that he was not interested in their plans or discussions, but the work they have done.
“They said ‘we need to show you that we have done a lot of work, but I told them that I don’t not want to hear your discussions, I want to see the progress on the ground’,” the minister said.
Minister Chidhakwa said in terms of the current situation regarding the platinum beneficiation facility, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will continue to levy raw exports.
He said Government has repeatedly pronounced its policy position on beneficiation and value addition and would therefore not abort it before the miners have complied with its requirement.
Platinum mining companies have complained that the export tax would negatively affect the viability of the operations considering they are also liable to a 10 percent royalties charge.
The Government first proposed the levy in 2013 in an effort to push platinum mining companies to process the metal in the country to increase the value of returns from minerals.
This comes in the context of the continent’s mining vision, which exhorts African countries to optimise returns from their abundant natural resources to improve the livelihoods of their impoverished people.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa proposed in his 2014 National Budget deferral of the levy until 2017 to give the platinum producers time to build a local refinery facility.
Miners are now not clear whether the tax, which they say could eat into margins, would be introduced or not as the Finance Bill published early this month proposed its introduction from January 1.
The firms earlier argued that current volumes below 430 000 ounces per year were not enough to sustain establishment of a platinum refinery in the country. They have also raised concern that the country power output of 1 400 megawatts was not enough to power such facilities.
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