Pan-African multi-commodity resources exploration and development company Mwana Africa plans to reopen a smelter in northeastern Zimbabwe to refine platinum-group metals, Bloomberg reported. According to Mwana's CEO, Kalaa Mpinga, the company plans to raise debt financing to restart the Bindura Nickel Corporation smelter and refinery that has been halted in 2008. The company will need 12 months to modify the facility to handle 100,000-200,000 ounces of platinum concentrates a year.
Zimbabwe is currently assessing the proposals of platinum miners to build a precious metals refinery. In the beginning of January, the government gave platinum mines deadline until January 18 to submit proposals to build the refinery, which is estimated to cost at least USD 2bn, following a threat by the President Robert Mugabe to ban raw exports.
Zimbabwe's government has long pressed the platinum industry to build a refinery, but the sector considers current production levels of below 300,000 ounces annually as too low to sustain a refinery. In November last year, the mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said the country could allow foreign-owned platinum mining firms own majority shares in their local operations if they together build a refinery.
In February 2013, the Zimbabwean government said it was giving local platinum producers a two-year deadline to start refining platinum group metals (PGMs) inside the country in a bid to get more value from the resource. According to the country's deputy mines minister, Fred Moyo, this deadline may be too short. The country has the world's second-largest known platinum reserves after South Africa, which accounts for about 80% of the global PGM deposits.