Platinum refining in
South Africa “’ now
a refinery is to be
built in Zimbabwe
Harare, Zimbabwe — 01 October 2013 – “Work to establish the first ever platinum refinery in Zimbabwe is on course with feasibility studies for the plant having been completed,” says Zimplats chief executive Alex Mhembere, adding that the country’s three main producers were in support of the government call for local beneficiation of minerals.

“The three of us (Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa) are working together to build a refinery. A feasibility study has been completed and as we speak work is in progress to establish a centralised refining facility,” he confirmed, reports

Mhembere said currently some form of beneficiation of platinum was taking place, as two of the three operating platinum mines were producing concentrate while the other was producing matte after smelting.

The platinum refinery is expected to cost at least US$2 billion to set up. Zimbabwe has the second largest known platinum reserves in the world after South Africa, but currently its three main producers send their ore to South Africa for processing.

The absence of a local refinery has resulted in the loss of revenue and job opportunities for the country.

Analysts contend that establishment of a refinery would significantly increase revenue because platinum is found in abundant quantities in the country. Platinum accounts for at least 36% of Zimbabwe’s total mineral production. This year output is expected to reach 12 500kg, up from 10 524kg mined last year.

Demand for platinum has dipped over the years as effects of the global financial recession took hold on leading automobile industries that either closed shop or cut back on operations.
Platinum and its sister metal palladium are mostly used in motor vehicle catalytic converters and in jewellery manufacturing.

For the first time in seven years the global platinum market recorded a narrow deficit of 83 000oz in 2012.  This was due mainly to labour unrest in South Africa.

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