The Zimbabwean government has taken steps towards banning the export of platinum ore as a way to force international mining firms to build refineries inside the country to increase the value of natural resources shipped abroad.
Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire said the country is losing a lot of money in the untaxed export of by-products refined from platinum such as gold and vanadium.
The country’s three platinum mining companies - Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa - produced 280,000 ounces of platinum last year, making Zimbabwe the world’s fifth biggest producer after South Africa, Russia, the United States and Canada.
Chimanikire told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the cabinet has resolved to withdraw platinum export licenses, as was previously done with chrome.
Executive Director John Mufukare of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe said the government often comes up with good ideas but fails to implement them.
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was expected to visit the controversial Marange diamond field in January, having submitted a request to the Ministry of Mines last week, news reports said. The reports said Mr. Tsvangirai insisted on visiting the diamond zone, to date off limits even to members of Parliament.
The prime minister has called for transparency in mining and selling Marange diamonds. His office said a better understanding of operations will advance this objective.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told reporter Sandra Nyaira that Mr. Tsvangirai can visit the Marange zone any time. He said the prime minister’s failure to visit the field earlier had nothing to do with the Ministry of Mines but the premier's busy schedule.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga said Mr. Tsvangirai’s visit will not resolve the problems in Marange - alleged human rights abuses, smuggling and other diversion of rough stones by security services and other insiders - but could bring about greater openness in the dealings of the firms operating there.