Zimbabwe declines to extend Impala deadline

[miningmx.com] – ZIMBABWE has turned down a request by Impala
Platinum, the world’s second-biggest producer, to extend a deadline to hand over a
29.5% stake in its Zimplats unit to a state-run fund, according to a letter seen by
Reuters on Wednesday.

Harare is expected to announce the fate of Implats’ shareholding in Zimplats later on
Wednesday after the two sides failed to agree on demands for the miner to surrender
the stake, which is worth $310m at current prices.

Zimbabwe’s Youth and Empowerment ministry, which is leading a push for local blacks
to take majority stakes in foreign firms, told Zimplats bosses in a March 2 letter that
today’s deadline would not slip.

“You are advised that your request for a 30-day extension has been rejected by the
honourable minister and your company is expected to comply with the law as stated
in our February 22 letter,” the document said.

The two sides met on Friday and Monday but failed to break the deadlock, a
government official said.

Although the two-week ultimatum falls due on Wednesday, it is not clear what Harare
will do if Zimplats fails to comply. Under the southern African country’s
’empowerment’ laws, it could cancel Zimplats’ mining licence or arrest its executives.

Zimplats has already handed over 21.5% of its shares to “local communities”, a staff
trust fund and a sovereign wealth group.

Implats CEO, David Brown, said last week the company would not quit Zimbabwe,
home to the second-largest platinum deposits after South Africa.