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PGMs Generate US$2.1 Billion for Zimbabwe in 2023

PGMs Generate US$2.1 Billion for Zimbabwe in 2023

The Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) industry continued to be a vital pillar of Zimbabwe’s economy, contributing US$2.1 billion in export revenue last year.

Despite facing challenges from depressed global market prices, the sector’s performance underscored its significance, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.

PGMs are Zimbabwe’s second largest export after gold, with an anticipated revenue of US$3 billion for 2023. Combined, platinum and gold account for over half of the country’s export earnings, while the mining sector overall constitutes more than 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s export value.

Speaking at a PGMs symposium in Victoria Falls, Minister Chitando emphasized the sector’s crucial role in driving economic growth. Zimbabwe, holding the third largest PGMs deposits globally after South Africa and Russia, sees significant potential in this industry. Unlocking this potential involves addressing key issues such as promoting PGMs’ role in the energy transition, financing domestic refinery construction, and implementing a strategic import policy.

“The PGMs sector remains a vital contributor to our national economy, generating US$2.1 billion in 2023. PGMs account for approximately 25 percent of our national exports, underscoring their importance to our economic prosperity,” stated Minister Chitando.

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He noted the dynamic and challenging landscape of PGMs mining, highlighting a substantial 40 percent decline in palladium prices. This price volatility reflects the complex interplay of global forces, including the geopolitical ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has significantly impacted the PGMs market.

Despite these challenges, Minister Chitando expressed confidence that local PGMs producers would continue to increase production to counter revenue losses from the downturn in commodity prices. Notably, Zimbabwe’s platinum production surged to 507,000 ounces last year, a six percent increase from 2022, driven by investments enhancing operational stability.

Zimbabwe hosts three active PGMs producers: Zimplats and Unki Mine, majority-owned by South African companies Implats and Anglo-American respectively, and Mimosa, co-owned by Sibanye Stillwaters and Implats.

Minister Chitando urged local platinum producers to move beyond being price takers in the global market by investing in exploration, mine efficiency, and value addition. He stressed the importance of collaboration with research institutions to develop innovative extraction and processing techniques, enhancing the competitive edge of Zimbabwe’s PGMs sector.

He also highlighted the impact of technological advancements and recycling on stabilizing prices, noting that platinum is a key component in electrolysers for green hydrogen production, a clean and sustainable energy source with significant potential.

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As the world transitions to a low-carbon future, PGMs are expected to remain central to sustainable energy solutions. Zimbabwe has the opportunity to position itself as a key player in the clean energy revolution, attracting investments and creating new opportunities for its citizens.

Also read: Zanu PF Activist Mike Chimombe and Partner Moses Mpofu Accuse Wicknell Chivhayo of Fraud in ZEC Tender Deal

Minister Chitando also expressed satisfaction with Zimplats’ significant investments to enhance its processing capacity. Under a US$1.8 billion capital expenditure plan, Zimplats is setting up integrated projects, including new mines, smelter expansion, an additional concentrator, a base metal refinery, and a 110MW solar power plant.

“The construction of additional smelters and the refurbishment of the base metal refinery will enable the company to process its materials domestically, further boosting our local mining industry,” he said. He also mentioned an agreement among PGMs producers to use excess capacity at Zimplats for toll treatment, fostering collaboration within the sector.

“We welcome collaboration with international investors and financial institutions who share our vision for a sustainable and prosperous Zimbabwe,” Minister Chitando concluded.

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