HARARE: Zimbabwe's central bank has ordered the country's banks to stop processing mineral exports by Impala Platinum's local unit, which it accuses of failing to comply with an order to bank locally, a state newspaper said on Friday.
A spokeswoman for Zimplats, which is 87 percent owned by the South African miner, told the state-controlled Herald that the directive was unnecessary because the company had complied with the instructions.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said Zimplats had defied his directive, issued in February, to transfer funds from its offshore accounts to Zimbabwean banks, the newspaper reported.
"Due to failure by Zimplats to adhere with the provisions of this directive ... exchange control has taken corrective measures to enforce compliance," the central bank said in a letter quoted by the newspaper.
"In this regard, authorised dealers (banks) are hereby advised to stop processing and facilitating international or any cross-border payments on behalf of Zimplats... and to stop facilitating any exports ... on behalf of Zimplats."
Zimplats was not immediately available to comment, but its spokeswoman Busi Chindove told the paper: "We must say we were surprised because in reality Zimplats had no objection to the initial communication by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe."
"To this end, the company is now paying for 75 percent of its expenditure in Zimbabwe. The remaining 25 percent relates to ... foreign loans that were raised with the knowledge, support and approval of the monetary authorities."
If implemented, the central bank move would paralyse Zimplats' exports, which account for 25 percent of Zimbabwe's total mineral exports, according to official figures.
Zimplats contributes 10 percent to its parent's annual output.
Zimbabwe ordered foreign mining firms to deposit their export earnings with local banks as the government aimed to address a dollar crunch afflicting its economy.
Foreign firms have come under pressure from President Robert Mugabe's government, which is championing an empowerment drive to transfer majority stakes to locals.
In March, Impala Platinum, the world's second largest platinum miner, bowed to pressure and said it would surrender a 51 percent stake in Zimplats to local black investors.
The world's largest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, and Rio Tinto, which runs a diamond mine, are among the major international firms operating in Zimbabwe.