Empress Nickel Refinery

Location: Kadoma, Zimbabwe


RioBaseMetals is comprised solely of the Empress Nickel Refinery, which it owns outright. The ENR operation is symbolic of RioZim’s journey from inception in 1956. The company initially started as a nickel and copper refinery and grew steadily with the purchase of the Cam and Motor mine in 1959, and the Sandawana Emerald mine in 1961, establishing itself as a major operator in the country. In 1964 the company’s attentions returned to the ENR body when nickel prices firmed and in 1967 the company produced the first nickel refined on a commercial basis in the country.

ENR enjoyed strong success, but by 1982 the deposits at ENR were all but depleted, forcing the refinery to be shut down. However, recognizing the value of the expertise that had been developed at ENR, RioZim approached a Swiss company, Centametall, in order to facilitate the purchase matte from Botswana, which became the basis for a toll- refining contract between RioZim and BCL, still in operation today.


  • ENR continues to be RioZim’s best performer, contributing 77% of the group’s revenue with US$43.6 million, with the balance coming from the terminated Cam Sands treatment projects.
  • ENR recently installed its own 20tpd Oxygen Plant, which will be used to meet ENR’s oxygen demands, as well as provide oxygen for other producers in the area.
  • This is just the first step in a greater expansion plan. ENR’s objective is to increase the refinery’s capacity from 17,400 mt per year to 45,000 mt per year, tripling its total capacity.