Zimbabwean government seizes land from Impala platinum unit

Zimbabwe seized some land owned by Zimplats Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest platinum miner, “with immediate effect,” Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said.

The southern African nation’s government has repossessed 27,948 hectares (69,061 acres) of land from the company and will offer it to new investors, Mpofu told reporters today in Harare, the capital. The country also wants producers to establish a platinum-group metal refinery, and expects companies to present implementation plans, he said.

Zimbabwe “has not realized significant value from the platinum sector beyond the traditional statutory payments,” Mpofu said. “We can no longer continue having our minerals refined outside the country. You can only compensate for land that has been bought. The ground belongs to Zimbabwe and there can not be talks of compensation when the land belongs to you.”

Zimbabwe, which has the largest known platinum and chrome reserves after South Africa, doesn’t have a refinery and most of Zimplats’s platinum is processed at Impala Platinum Ltd.’s plant near Johannesburg. Impala, which owned 87% of Zimplats and is the world’s biggest producer of the metal after Anglo American Platinum Ltd., on Jan. 11 signed the terms to sell 51% to the country’s black citizens.

“We are unaware of this,” Bob Gilmour, a spokesman for Johannesburg-based Impala, said by mobile phone.

Zimplats has spent $30 million on a feasibility study for a refinery in Zimbabwe that will cost at least $2 billion, Chief Executive Officer Alex Mhembere said on Jan. 14.

Platinum rose for the first time in four days, adding 1.2% to $1,709.94 an ounce by 2:55 p.m. in London.

Bloomberg News

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