Zim on recovery path: Anglo American

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There are green shoots of recovery for the Zimbabwean economy despite current challenges occasioned by ongoing reforms, head of British multinational mining company Anglo American has said.

Mr Mark Cutifani, the chief executive officer of the US$28 billion mining concern, which owns Unki Mine, told The Sunday Mail that the local economy can be quickly turned around by taping into the country’s impressive human capital.

He said while power cuts and foreign currency retention regulations presented significant headwinds, production at its local platinum mine was rising.

“We obviously work within the Government’s (forex retention) guidelines; we pay a balance between different currencies and we look at how we can use available power at the right places at the right time,” said Mr Cutifani in an interview on the sidelines of the recent Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa.

“So we work within those constraints, but the operations (at Unki) have improved; productivity (has gone up) by about 30 percent — (which is) a fantastic job.

“So if you look at the can-do attitude in Zimbabwe, it is remarkable.

“And if you think about where the country is going to be in about 20 years if the leadership can tap into that capacity, the country will recover quicker than people think.”

He urged the Government to continue pursuing an inclusive reform agenda to quicken progress.

Anglo is one of the country’s biggest investors in mining and operates one of the largest operations at Unki in the Midlands province, which produces over 60 000 ounces of platinum annually.

Last year, Unki opened a US$62 million smelter, signalling the company’s commitment to local beneficiation of minerals in line with the Government’s push for value addition.

Mr Cutifani also praised Government for opening the “right conversations” with potential investors, saying this could help attract and spur investment.

“I think the right conversations are being held, but we have to turn good conversations into action on the ground, so we are encouraged and from our point of view, we will continue to support the team . . .

“But we also appreciate the difficulties coming from where we have come from . . . so trying to understand how we can be constructive supporters is really important.”

Anglo American would continue to engage Government for policy and regulatory adjustments that will allow it to begin exploiting some of its idle mining claims, he said.

Unki owns one of the largest platinum reserves, which are estimated at 34 million ounces.

“We will always try to make sure that we are using something; in our case, it is a timing issue on investment and it connects to policy.

“We have been very clear to Government on what would be required for us to make investments to get those things moving. So it is a dialogue both ways.”

Government is in the process of enforcing the “use it or lose it” policy to help develop mining assets and curb speculative activities in the sector.

Some mining companies have failed to develop gold and platinum assets they have held since the 1960s.

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