Bloomberg News

Impala Platinum in Talks With Zimbabwe as Deadline Expires

September 01, 2011

(Updates with comments from Anglo American Platinum in sixth paragraph.)

Sept. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, said it’s in talks with Zimbabwe’s government as the deadline for the company to revise local ownership proposals expired.

Impala declined to say whether it submitted revised proposals, commenting in an e-mailed response to questions late yesterday. Aquarius Platinum Ltd., which also has mines in the country, declined to comment, Gavin Mackay, a spokesman, said today by phone from London.

Zimbabwe, which has the world’s largest platinum reserves after South Africa, passed a law this year forcing foreign companies to cede at least 51 percent of their local assets to black Zimbabweans. Impala and Aquarius had until Aug. 31 to revise proposals that the government has rejected. Impala is spending $460 million expanding its Ngezi mine in the country and co-owns the Mimosa mine with Aquarius.

It’s disappointing that Impala faces ultimatums in the country where it’s been a “model investor” for about 10 years, Chief Executive Officer David Brown said earlier this month. The company, based in Johannesburg, won’t hand control of its Zimbabwean operations to the government, he said.

Anglo American Plc’s platinum unit, the world’s largest producer, declined to say whether it had proposals rejected by the government.

“Anglo American Platinum Ltd. is in on-going negotiations with the Zimbabwe government to find a mutually acceptable empowerment proposal for its Unki Mine in Zimbabwe,” the Johannesburg-based company said in an e-mailed response to a query today.

Anglo started up the Unki mine late last year when it said production would gradually increase to 65,000 ounces of refined platinum a year in the fourth quarter of 2013.

--Editors: Alex Devine, Tony Barrett

To contact the reporter on this story: Carli Lourens in Johannesburg at clourens@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net


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