Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is threatening to halt exports of raw platinum to South Africa unless three producers set up a refining plant in the country.
“Let us close our doors immediately and say no raw platinum will go to South Africa,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper cited Mugabe as saying to members of his ruling party at an address in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.
Former Mines Minister Obert Mpofu had given mining firms “two years and we must see them now arranging to build a refinery,” Mugabe was cited as saying. “If they have not started, after that warning, building a refinery then when the time comes for us to demand that all refining has to be done here they should not blame us.”
Zimbabwe has three platinum mines, though all refining of its metal is done in South Africa. Zimbabwe’s platinum industry needs as much as $5.3 billion if it is to expand to produce more than 500,000 ounces of the metal and to construct precious and base metal refineries, according to the Platinum Producers Committee, which expects output of 365,000 ounces this year.
The group represents South Africa’s Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Aquarius Platinum Ltd. and Anglo American Plc’s platinum unit, which are the main producers in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, 89, won elections in July to extend his 33-year rule. Prior to the elections he made threats to seize control of mines and banks from foreign and white investors and give them to black citizens and the government.