Anglo asks Zimbabwe High Court to rule on $24m mineral royalties dispute

ANGLO American’s platinum operation in Zimbabwe has asked the High Court to intervene after the country’s tax authority sought $24m in royalties it alleges are due, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

Unki Mines, which is owned by Anglo American Platinum, lodged an urgent court application against Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which has sought to garnish funds from the company’s account at the local unit of Standard Bank Group, the newswire said.

“The garnishing of the applicants account threatens its very survival as it has been left unable to conduct its normal business,” Unki Mines said in an urgent application to the high court.

The Anglo American business said the action taken by Zimra, as the tax agency is known, is unlawful. The case dates back to 2018, when the tax authority alleged that Unki was underpaying mining royalties. While the company later paid those disputed royalties in local currency, it said the tax authority is demanding payment in dollars.

Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines said earlier this year that political instability and economic collapse, as well as rules deterring foreign investment would affect the country’s ability to attract investment.

“Key risks to the Zimbabwe mining sector outlook include inadequate foreign exchange allocations to fund operational requirements and expansion projects,” the chamber was quoted as saying in the report, adding that the mining sector faced a funding shortfall of $10bn over the next five years.

“I very often wish I could bottle what they have and distribute it across the company. The quality of work and efficiency is absolutely extraordinary,” said Natascha Viljoen of Unki which she described two years ago as among the group’s most productive mines.