HARARE– Zimbabwe’s Bindura Nickel Corporation will restart its smelter by December after raising $20 million from a five-year bond, a company official said on Tuesday.

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Mwana Africa chief executive Kalaa Mpinga

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Bindura Nickel, which is majority-owned by African miner Mwana Africa, said it had already received enquiries from miners in Australia to smelt their produce.

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Bindura, Africa’s only integrated nickel company, with a mine, smelter and refinery, had its smelter and refinery closed for more than 10 years after nickel prices fell and Zimbabwe’s economy went into recession, making operations unprofitable.

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The bond, which was issued to local investors, was underwritten by the Zimbabwe unit of pan-African lender Ecobank and attracted an interest of 10 percent.

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Mwana Africa chief executive Kalaa Mpinga said the smelter would start operating within nine months, with a capacity to process 160,000 tonnes of nickel matte per year.

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Bindura currently sells nickel concentrate to Glencore but after the smelter starts running, the company would be exporting nickel alloy, increasing its revenues by up to 20 percent, Mpinga said.

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“Ever since we started the process of refurbishing the smelter we have been approached by nickel producers as far as away Australia to find out whether we will be able to process some of their material,” Mpinga told analysts and journalists.

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Mpinga said Glencore would be given an opportunity to buy nickel alloy if it makes a competitive offer.

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Mpinga also said Bindura was looking at processing platinum group metals by modifying its smelter.

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Zimbabwe in January levied a 15 percent tax on the export of unrefined platinum to force platinum mining companies to set up refineries in the southern African country.

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