Gono economic with info on platinum

Conrad Dube

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono this week provided incomplete information on the operational modalities of the new Enhanced Platinum Sector Regime (EPSR) which is coming into effect on Tuesday

next week.


The proposed EPSR was announced during Gono’s presentation of the fourth quarter 2004 monetary policy in Harare on Wednesday.


The platinum sector will be reformed to harness foreign currency inflows but the RBZ only provided guidelines on the operation of special foreign currency accounts (FCAs).


Stakeholders in the sectors are not privy to details of the EPSR.

Chamber of Mines chief executive David Murangari said they had only received RBZ published information which does not have all the details of the regime.


“We only have RBZ published information so we are not sure if we will be given additional information.


Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) spokesperson, Nina Kwaramba, said: “The only details we have of the operational modalities are those published in the policy document presented by the governor.”


The EPSR, according to the policy document, seeks to balance the need to protect and support the interests of investors while at the same time optimising transparency in the handling of platinum foreign exchange inflows.


The policy document said it was imperative that the RBZ was fully aware of the need to be accommodated when it comes to special circumstances relating to certain leveraged financing programmes put in place by the investor community and the generality of trade creditors.


“Currently, the platinum industry largely operates under a fragmented framework in which the processing and marketing agreements are not quite comprehensible to many. In this environment, it has become increasingly difficult to account for the country’s foreign exchange receipts arising from the extractive industry.”


The EPSR document simply requires that platinum producers open an FCA to be known as a Collection Account FCA. The local commercial or merchant bank in turn approaches the RBZ to open a mirror Trust Account for the exporter. The RBZ will open three accounts in its books, an Operating Foreign Currency Account, Debt Service Sinking Fund FCA and Dividend Sinking Fund FCA.


Gono last year said the platinum industry had remained a “black-box shrouded by an intricate web of processing marketing agreements that are not quite comprehensible to many in both the public and official domains”. He said the new dispensation would ensure greater transparency and accountability in the platinum industry as a strategic resource.


Platinum forms one of Zimbabwe’s top strategic minerals, with geological assessments indicating that the country has the largest reserves of this valuable mineral in the world, after South Africa.


The new policy is set to hit hard mining groups like Makwiro Platinum and Zimplats in which Impala Platinum Holdings (Ltd) (Implats), the world’s second largest platinum producer, holds 82%.


Gono could not be reached for comment on his mobile while acting Mines minister Francis Nhema was not available.