Anglo developing transport, water infrastructure in Zim

Carroll said, in response to a question at the company’s presentation of a record set of US$6-billion-profit interim results for the six months to June 30, that the company had to keep investing in the Unki prospect in Zimbabwe in order to retain ownership of the platinum asset.

At this stage Anglo American was not producing any platinum in Zimbabwe, nor paying any taxes to the Zimbabwe government.

She said that Anglo American, which had been in Zimbabwe for more than 50 years, started drilling in the area as long ago as the 1970s.

The company had launched the prefeasibility study for the Unki platinum resource in the 1990s and had identified the large orebody in 2003.

The company was in the process developing it into a future mine: “As we speak, we are developing the infrastructure. We are developing the roads, we are developing water supply and that’s the state of the work that’s going on.

“We are not producing any platinum today, but would expect, if the political environment improves, that we would break ground and start producing in the year 2010.

“It’s a very big orebody. We have to keep investing to hold on to it…There are no taxes being paid into that government today and we are bringing capital equipment in from outside the country. That’s the state of affairs and we continue to watch it very closely,” she said.

The question which led to Carroll’s response was why Unki ‘ which had a large near-surface orebody capable of yielding 400 000 oz to 500 000 oz of platinum a year ‘ was not prioritised ahead of capital investment in South Africa’s high-cost deep-level underground mines.

Anglo American currently owned 77.8 percent of Anglo Platinum and was continually studying the option of acquiring 100 percent of Anglo Platinum and delisting it from the JSE. Anglo American finance director Ren’ M’dori added that Anglo was keen to increase both its position in platinum and exposure to platinum.

New Anglo Platinum CEO Neville Nicolau said that Anglo Platinum was uniquely positioned in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex, with a step in to the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe, adding that it was its platinum exposure that differentiated Anglo American from the other diversified majors.

Anglo Platinum was, however, “under-performing” its asset capability and programmes had been put in place to improve production to full potential.

Anglo Platinum a week ago re-affirmed its commitment to developing the Unki project saying Zimbabwe remains strategically important to the company’s growth plans.

Nicolau said that Angloplat does not ‘hand its future on a political party banner, but rather the country.’

Echoing sentiments of the UK government, the British government last month hit out at Anglo American’s moves to invest US$400 million in the Unki platinum project.

“It is the only one geology that is outside South Africa that is significant in the platinum group metals world and we think that there is a long term growth position in Zimbabwe,” Nicolau said. ‘ MiningWeekly/Own Staff.

August 2008
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