Saturday, July 30, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) No empowerment feed-back from govt: Zimplats

No empowerment feed-back from govt: Zimplats
28/07/2011 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu

THE government has not officially responded to empowerment proposals made by the country’s leading platinum mining firm Zimbabwe Platinum (Zimplats), the company's chief executive said on Thursday.

"We submitted our plan in terms of the law. The plan takes into account our agreement with government as well as community involvement," Alex Mhembere told Reuters, adding the company has yet to hear back from empowerment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere.

Zimplats is 87 percent contrlled by South Africa-based Impala Platinum (Implats), the world’s second largest platinum producer. Implats also has a 50 percent interest in Mimosa Platinum Mine located in the Midlands town of Zvishavane.
"He (Kasukuwere) has not officially communicated to us," Mhembere said.

Mhembere’s comments come after Kasukuwere announced that all the 175 proposals submitted by companies had been thrown out after failing to meet the minimum requirements.

Foreign companies are required by low to localise control of at least 51 percent of their shareholding as part of measures aimed at economically empowering the country’s historically disadvantaged black majority.

But Kasukuwere said most of the proposals submitted to his office fell far short of the minimum threshold with companies offering around 26 percent equity and the balance in a combination of so-called social credits that include investing in local communities’ development.

Zimplats has particularly come under attack from the government with President Robert Mugabe accusing the company of looting from the country.
“Zimplats has never given us any substantial money,” Mugabe said early this year.

“They are taking all the money to South Africa that’s why I have told (Empowerment Minister Saviour) Kasukuwere to deal with those mines.

The company had a prior deal with the government under which it gave up part of its mineral resource base in return for empowerment credits and wants the arrangement to be considered as part of its overall compliance plan.
The government is resisting the proposal.

A proposed US$450 million expansion programme which will see platinum production boosted by 90 000 ounces to reach annualized output of 270 000 ounces will, however, not be affected by the indigenization dispute, company officials insist.

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