Prosper Ndlovu in Shurugwi
MULTINATIONAL mining group, Anglo American Platinum, has pledged continued support for Zimbabwe’s economic development in partnership with Government as it believes in President Mnangagwa’s vision of transforming the country into a middle-income economy by 2030.
Speaking during the official commissioning of the $62 million Unki Mines smelter here yesterday, company chairman, Mr James Maposa, said the “Zimbabwe is open for business mantra” being championed by the new political dispensation was genuine and his group shared the same 2030 vision for Zimbabwe.
With increased investment, decent jobs, broad-based empowerment and anti-corruption measures, Zimbabwe could be transformed into an economic paradise, he said.
“This is a vision we share, and the official opening today of this $62 million platinum group metals smelter is proof that at Anglo American Platinum, we mean business and that we are here to stay — to join you on this journey to economic growth and future prosperity,” said Mr Maposa.
The smelter, whose construction was announced in 2015, is an extension of the company’s commitment to local beneficiation of minerals and buttresses Government’s plans for economic growth as espoused in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP).
The custom-designed, cost efficient smelter is sized to meet Unki’s current production and retains capability for later upgrades to meet future increased mine production.
The scope of the facility is the primary smelting of Unki concentrate to produce a furnace matte, which is crushed on site and transported to the AngloAmerican Platinum converter process facility in Rustenburg, South Africa, for further processing.
The furnace heat-up at the smelter started early August 2018 and has been ramping up with the first production of matte at the end of September 2018 while the export of crushed matte commenced in mid-November 2018, said the group.
Mr Maposa said his company understands that Government cannot do it alone hence they were keen to partner Zimbabwe and its people to collectively foster economic transformation.
The group has since 2008 invested more than $500 million in mining operations and social infrastructure development in Zimbabwe.
“In 2018, Unki Mines spent about $75 million on procurement from local suppliers, employees earned more than $32 million and nearly $25 million was paid in tax to Government,” he said.
“In addition to the 1 137 employees and 1 089 contractors employed by Unki mines, the new smelter is employing 73 workers.
“Unki is a strategic investment for Anglo America Platinum, who remain a long-term investor in Zimbabwe.
“To date, Unki mines is the only PGM company that has heeded Government’s beneficiation call.”
The 73 workers at the smelter have been trained at the company’s smelters in South Africa and have been equipped to fully operate the modern facility.
Mr Maphosa said his company has embraced Government’s vision in its entirety including the aspects of prudent safety standards and sustainable operations that cover thorough corporate social responsibility sensibility.
As the country forges ahead with its industrialisation drive and stimulating value chains across sectors, Mr Maposa said his company will play its role to ensure the success of Government efforts.
Unki has implemented a number of projects in farming, sanitisation, water infrastructure, roads, housing, healthcare and capacity building to meet community needs. Mr Maposa, however, said the firm was facing some challenges such as electricity tariffs and forex retention threshold, concerns that were negatively impacting on their viability and appealed for Government intervention.