Zimbabwean government has shortlisted two companies to build a platinum refinery, New Zimbabwe reported, quoting the mines minister Walter Chidhakwa. 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. According to New Zimbabwe, nine companies have submitted proposals for the refinery. The winning bid is expected to be announced within days. Chidhakwa said the government considered a number of factors in assessing the proposals, including the financial viability of the project and its social impact.
Last week, pan-African multi-commodity resources exploration and development company Mwana Africa said it planned to reopen a smelter in northeastern Zimbabwe to refine platinum-group metals.
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, 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.
The major platinum miners in Zimbabwe are South African companies, including Aquarius Platinum, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum (Implats), which export the metal to beneficiate it in South African refineries.