ZIMBABWE’S platinum output could this year surpass last year’s, a move that could place the country among the world’s top five platinum
group metals (PGMs) producers, businessdigest established this week.
Based on 2003 and 2004 production volumes, the World Mining Data 2006 report says the country is already the seventh largest platinum producer after overtaking Japan, Australia and Yugoslavia.
Platinum production figures for 2005 amounted to 4 833 kg. The United States was placed fifth on the World Mining Data report with output at 4 040 kg in 2004, a figure that has already been surpassed by the 2005 production level.
South Africa and Zimbabwe are the only producers of PGMs in Africa. South Africa is the world’s leading platinum producer and the second largest palladium producer after Russia.
The World Mining Data report, which summarised mineral output trends across the globe from 2000, indicated that platinum output in Zimbabwe increased two fold from 504 kg in 2000 to 1000 kg in 2004, surpassing Japan, Australia and Yugoslavia.
In 2001 Zimbabwe produced 519 kg of platinum, followed by 2 306 kg in 2002, 1 300 kg in 2003 and 1000 kg in 2004.
Platinum output however peaked at 4 833 kg in 2005, according to figures from the Chamber of Mines.
Zimbabwe was out of the top 10 before 2000, the report indicated.
Zimbabwe has the second-largest platinum group metal deposit in the world after South Africa.
The two countries hold about 90% of the world’s known reserves of platinum but the local mining industry is presently rattled by an array of problems that have subdued mineral production.
For instance inflation hit 1 023,3% in September, the highest in the world.
Potential investors have also been closely monitoring the threat of mine seizures following government proposals to acquire 51% shareholding in foreign-owned mines.
The planned acquisition of foreign-owned mines has negatively impacted on investments in the mining sector, described by analysts as capital-intensive.
Other top 10 world platinum producers are Canada, Colombia, Russia and the United States.
Zimbabwe is also among the top 20 asbestos producing countries in the world.
Output of the mineral however dropped from 151 954 metric tonnes in 2000 to 130 000 metric tonnes in 2004.
The world’s most expanding economy, China, is listed as the largest asbestos producer.
China extracted 510 000 metric tonnes of asbestos in 2004, up from 260 000 tonnes in 2000.