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Impala Fails to Meet Zimbabwe Ownership Laws, Minister Says

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.’s Zimbabwean unit, known as Zimplats, has failed to meet new laws on asset ownership and may have its mining license revoked, according to Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.

“We will be dispatching a letter to the Ministry of Mines very soon concerning Zimplats,” Kasukuwere said today in a telephone interview. The company’s exploration projects in the country include the Ngezi South and North ventures, Hartley Platinum and the Selous complex.

Zimbabwe, with the world’s second-biggest reserves of platinum and chrome after neighboring South Africa, has demanded all foreign or white-owned companies submit plans to sell 51 percent stakes in local assets for approval. The law, which could see non-compliant businesses lose operating rights, may threaten a recovery from a 10-year recession that ended in 2009.

“We would like to let Zimplats continue mining in this country, but if they continue to disregard laws of this country we are left with no option but to proceed in terms of the law,” Kasukuwere told reporters in Harare yesterday. The minister said he’ll ask the ministry to start the process of revoking Impala’s license, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported today.

Investment Potential

The company is the biggest investor in Zimbabwe’s mining industry and could invest as much as $10 billion more to expand its output, David Brown, chief executive officer of Impala, said in an interview on Aug. 25.

Bob Gilmour, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based company, declined to comment when contacted today.

Investments by companies in Zimbabwe are safe, President Robert Mugabe said at the opening of parliament yesterday, urging compliance with the policy. The government is working on setting up a state company to lead mineral exploration and plans new laws on diamond mining, he said.

Among the 45 operations that have met the ownership demands is Rio Tinto Group’s Murowa diamond mine. Toronto-based miners New Dawn Mining Corp. and Caledonia Mining Corp., which runs the Blanket gold mine, have also had plans approved, Kasukuwere said. Others are revising proposals, he said.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd., which started its Unki mine in Zimbabwe late last year, is in talks with the Indigenization Ministry, Kasukuwere said in the interview.

“They are cooperating with us,” he said. “The intention is not to chase anyone away but to share the resource.”

Impala rose 4.1 percent to 175.99 rand at the 5 p.m. close in Johannesburg, giving the company a market value of 111.2 billion rand ($15.6 billion).

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