Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 22 February 2012 – Zimbabwe minister of youth development, indigenisation and empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere says he stands by a demand issued at a public rally earlier this week that Impala Platinum (Implats) relinquish its 50% shareholding in Mimosa Platinum. Mimosa is wholly owned by Mimosa Investments Limited, a Mauritius-based company jointly held by Implats and Aquarius Platinum Limited (Aquarius) in a 50:50 joint-venture.
Confirming this in a statement issued here, he also said he had drafted letters to Implats and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), informing the two South African platinum producers that Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws should be complied with as a matter of haste.
In response, outgoing Implats CEO David Brown said he had had no discussions with senior Zimbabwe government authorities on the company’s stake in Mimosa Platinum, nor regarding proposals the company had submitted in November to Kasukuwere’s office concerning its indigenisation plans. Zimbabwe has passed legislation calling for 51% local ownership of all foreign-held assets.
Analysts suggested that the heightened rhetoric from the Zimbabwean government on the matter of foreign investment was a prelude to the call by President Robert Mugabe, who turns 88 years old today, for national elections. If re-elected, Mugabe could be in power for a further five years, which would extend his rule over Zimbabwe to up to 37 years.
“Impala must be out of Mimosa. We are much happier negotiating with one partner,” said Kasukuwere. Implats shares Mimosa with Aquarius Platinum on an equal shareholding basis, but if both companies were to comply with indigenisation demands, they would each hold a 24.5% stake, thus leaving a Zimbabwe government-nominated company with 51%. Implats also owns 87% of Zimplats, the country’s largest platinum producer and the company that should be Implats’s sole vehicle in Zimbabwe, said Kasukuwere.
Speaking to a crowd on Sunday, Kasukuwere was quoted as saying: “Implats cannot be allowed to maintain a 24.5% portfolio investment in Mimosa while they have their hands full with the massive capital expenditure that will be required at Zimplats.”
“I don’t think there is any legal status for Impala having to sell its entire stake in Mimosa,” said Brown in a telephonic interview. “To be honest, I’m quite stunned about this. I never heard of a request like that before.
“I think that Impala has become a bit of a pressure point in terms of their [the Zimbabwe government’s] approach. It’s quite naive to think that you can only have one shareholder; there’s no logical answer,” he added.
Said Kasukuwere on indigenisation: “The time for negotiation is over. We are writing a letter today to Implats and Anglo Platinum’s Unki that the shares in those companies should be transferred to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board,” he said in a telephonic interview with Miningmx.
“We cannot delay this and we would like to have this concluded before national elections,” Kasukuwere added.
Brown said that Implats was happy to engage in discussions if it were approached by the Zimbabwean government on the matter of its shareholding in Mimosa, or regarding indigenisation in general. “I have had no dialogue this calendar year other than local-level talks,” said Brown.
Brown declined to comment on the likelihood the company’s indigenisation proposal would be accepted by the Zimbabwean government. “I’ll leave that to them,” he said. “I’m working on the assumption that all parties want a viable mining industry and that we just have different approaches,” said Brown.
Aquarius Platinum CEO, Stuart Murray, said he had not received any proposals regarding shareholder changes in Mimosa. He declined to comment further.