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Is This Black Sheep the Best Hope for Platinum?

The sheep in this case being Zimbabwe.

That country's Chamber of Mines said in a report this week that Zim is the brightest hope for global platinum supply. The Chamber thinks the nation's platinum output could grow significantly over the coming years.

The report went so far as to say that Zimbabwe's platinum output "will be approaching that of Russia" by 2017.

A look at the numbers shows this to be a bold prediction. Russia produced nearly 836,000 ounces of platinum in 2012. While Zimbabwe put out just 370,000. Implying that the Chamber thinks Zimbabwe's production will jump by some 450,000 annual ounces over the next three years.

The report did note a few caveats to this aggressive call. Most notably that the foreseen production growth will require investments of $2.8 billion in mines, $2 billion in processing plants and up to $500 million in power infrastructure.

Thus we see the dichotomy in Zimbabwe platinum. The geologic potential is undoubtedly huge. It may even be the best known on the planet in terms of production upside.

But the local mining sector faces a lot of challenges. Years of hampered foreign investment have left the industry here unprepared to reap the in-ground riches.

This is certainly an interesting situation. The world needs more platinum supply. Zimbabwe has it. And there are plenty of investors who would buy into such a situation, given the right assurances.

The question is: does the government see enough potential here to let capital do its work unimpeded?

We unfortunately don't have a clear answer on that front.

Here's to hoping the dream comes true,

By. Dave Forest




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