Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer reaches deal to turn over 51 percent to government

Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer reaches deal to turn over 51 percent to government

By Associated Press, Published: March 13

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum producer said Tuesday it has reached an “acceptable” agreement with the government under empowerment laws demanding it yields 51 percent ownership to blacks.

South Africa’s Implats, majority owner of the Zimbabwe producer, said in a statement that the government agreed “in principle” on Tuesday to its proposals for the transfer of a 51 percent shareholding that will be overseen by a joint technical team of experts from both sides.

It said the hand over will be at an “appropriate value.” It was not clear how long the transfer will take.

The announcement ends a tense standoff over Zimbabwe’s threatened takeovers of foreign-controlled businesses and mines.

A Tuesday deadline had been set for the miner to meet “indigenization” laws.

Implats chief executive David Brown said that after lengthy disputes and delays over Zimbabwe’s empowerment laws “essentially we have found each other.

“It is pleasing to submit a plan that complies with the law ... this augurs well for the mining industry,” he told reporters. “It creates some certainty and a more stable investment environment.”

Earlier Tuesday, Zimbabwe empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere met with Implats board chairman Khotso Mokele.

Kasukuwere said the miner’s proposals “basically comply” and he agreed that in principle they met Zimbabwe’s expectations.

“We are going to work out details of the transfer later,” he told reporters.

The Implats statement said the platinum producer addressed the minimum requirements of Zimbabwe’s Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act and other regulations passed over the past two years.

The technical team will be made up of officials of Implats, the empowerment ministry and a state regulatory board on empowerment, it said.

Last year, Zimplats became the first foreign-owned company to cede 10 percent of its holdings to a local community trust. Then it offered another stake of about 10 percent of its mining claims.

But Zimbabwe accused the company of delaying tactics and ordered it to hand over another 30 percent by mid-March. South African-based Implats owns 87 percent of existing shares in Zimplats.

Kasukuwere had said there would be no compromise over taking local control and vowed he would seize the mine and its assets if the owners defaulted on those demands by March 13.

Zimbabwe and South Africa are the world’s largest suppliers of platinum, a corrosion-resistant metal with a wide range of industrial uses that is priced higher than gold.

The former opposition party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has cautioned that the prospect of hefty business and mining takeovers scares off much-needed investment.

Foreign cash inflows have dwindled in recent months amid uncertainty over the security of possible investments.

Last year, Kasukuwere announced that he had canceled the Zimplats mining license but backed down after Zimbabwe’s mining minister ruled the cancellation void.

Critics of the empowerment drive point to a possible repetition of land seizures since 2000 that have seen many of the best former white-owned commercial farms allocated to politicians and Mugabe party loyalists who have left them to lie idle.

Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, now relies on imported food.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

1 comment:

  1. Pamberi neEmpowerment. These mineral resources belong to Zimbabweans. Hence they should benefit us Zimbos. Land reform was essential and successful. That's the way it is.