Can Mwana Africa provide the answer to Zimbabwe’s platinum refinery problem?


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Mwana Africa says it is planning to have its nickel smelter at Bindura Nickel Corporation back in operation in the first half of next year and the smelter could be adapted to treat platinum group metals. Although it did not give the time-frame for the adaptation, the move could save the country millions of dollars as the company says it will only spend US$26.5 million to bring the smelter back into operation. Platinum miners were given up to the end of this year to set up a refinery or they will be barred from exporting raw platinum to South Africa where it is currently refined. Platinum mining companies have argued that it is not viable to start a refinery in Zimbabwe because production is too low and there are erratic power supplies. The Chamber of Mines said as much as US$5.3 billion is needed to build the refinery and boost output. The Mwana project is likely to cost a fraction of that. China has said it is willing to put up the refinery with local partners. A Russian consortium has invested in a platinum operation in Zimbabwe and aims to boost production to 600 000 ounces a year, more than what the platinum companies argue will make the refinery viable.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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