Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

IMPALA Platinum (Implats) claims the beneficiation strategy as proposed in the draft amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act will cause a breach of long-term platinum supply agreements with existing customers in Japan and the US.

The world’s largest platinum miner made this statement in its written presentation to Parliament’s mineral resources committee on Wednesday.

The committee was conducting the fourth and last day of its public hearings into the changes of the law that governs the mining.

The act was originally passed in 2002.

Implats legal representative Stefanie Vivier said the proposed changes to the act did not clarify what constitutes beneficiation, and this raised the question of whether the miner’s existing value-adding activities actually constituted beneficiation.

Ms Vivier said Implats’s Silplats jewellery beneficiation project had failed to obtain a small duty-free allocation of platinum chain into China, despite the Department of Mineral Resources receiving an undertaking by the Chinese government to look into this.

She said as a consequence the Silplats beneficiation project had failed even with its support.

"There is no local market for platinum jewellery because it is a high-end product and it was not competitive globally," Ms Vivier said.

She said the proposed pricing and availability of platinum group metals for local beneficiation would have a negative impact on the pricing and availability of Implats’s exports.

Beneficiation had been a hot topic, she said. "It unfortunately does not appear that the new amendments to the (act) speak to beneficiation strategy," Ms Vivier said.

She said Implats proposed that the amendments to the act, the 2011 beneficiation strategy and the existing Precious Metals Act become aligned.

Implats would be very concerned if the market-price principal were done away with. "We are willing to co-operate (on beneficiation) through loans or schemes," Ms Vivier said, and 20% of Implats product had been earmarked for local delivery, but the company would need government support.