First Quantum Minerals
Kansanshi mine in
north-west Zambia
funded by Standard
Bank
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 13 May 2009 – Standard Bank Group Limited – Africa’s largest bank – has loaned US$36 million (R300 million) to Impala Platinum Holdings Limited’s Zimbabwe unit as it seeks funding amid the country’s political and economic turmoil.

On 30 April Zimplats Holdings announced that it had borrowed the sum from an unidentified South African bank to finance expansion of the company’s Ngezi mine. Now spokesman Erik Larsen has revealed that Standard Bank’s mining finance unit made the loan. He declined to provide further details.

Bloomberg News reports that Standard Bank – which operates in 17 African countries – is lending to Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum producer five months after President Robert Mugabe threatened to seize foreign-owned mining assets. In February Zimplats said it had fully drawn on a US$80 million (R720 million) loan facility secured last year, and advised investors to trade its shares with “extreme caution.”

“Zimbabwe is risky,” said Sanlam Investment Management fund manager Patrice Rassou, whose company oversees the equivalent of US$29.5 billion (R265 billion), including Standard Bank shares.

Zimplats – 87% owned by Impala – posted a second-half loss of US$26 million (R230 million) after the price of platinum slumped 55%.

Last month, Standard Bank received a US$400 million (R3.6 billion) credit line from the International Finance Corporation to spur trade on the African continent.

Standard Bank has been expanding faster than its three biggest rivals in South Africa, even as the worsening global recession increased the bank’s bad loans to 1.55% of total lending last year – above its 1% target.