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Mining giants support new Zimbabwe act

Mimosa– a shallow
underground Zimbabwean
mine extending
to a depth of 300m
Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 14 March, 2008 – Leading international mining groups Anglo Platinum and Rio Tinto have reaffirmed their commitment to continue operating in Zimbabwe, despite the uncertain passage into law of the Economic Empowerment and Indigenisation Bill 2007.

This latest development is reported by allAfrica.com, quoting “The Herald” newspaper here.

The new law gives black Zimbabweans the right to take a majority shareholding in foreign firms, but – according to Zimbabwean Chamber of Mines chief executive Joseph Malaba – it is unclear whether it includes the nation’s mining industry. A proposed law covering mines is reported to have lapsed on Feb. 16 because it was not signed by Mugabe.

Despite the uncertainty, both Anglo Platinum and Rio Tinto are reported to have said they would continue with their mining businesses.

Anglo Platinum head of investor relations Trevor Raymond says the mining giant will continue operations while at the same time engaging the Government, according to allAfrica.com, and Rio Tinto said it is not against the new law, but would want it to be implemented properly.

"Rio Tinto is supportive of the move towards indigenisation provided that it is done at the right pace and in a way that does not discourage much-needed overseas investment in the Zimbabwe mining industry," read part of the company statement.

Anglo Platinum has interests in Zimbabwe’s platinum sector through its shares in Mimosa Platinum, which it owns jointly with Impala Platinum, while RioZim has interests in the diamond sector through its Murowa diamond mine.

Impala Platinum (Implats), which owns Zimplats – the country’s biggest platinum producer – indicated last month that it was ready for the empowerment law.

Implats executive director Les Paton said the company had already secured clear "give-up-of-ground" agreements with the Zimbabwean Government, the report adds, which would entitle the company to a Zimbabwean ownership credit of between 19.5% and 29.25% at Zimplats, in which Implats has a controlling interest. Moreover, infrastructural and social credits were "well-understood and agreed", though the quantum had still to be finalised.

"If the 51 percent were to come to pass, we are well positioned to meet it," said Paton.

Impala Platinum also disclosed that it was in the process of expanding Zimplats’ production to 160 000 oz pa and Mimosa production to 100 000 oz pa.