World Economy

Zimbabwe, Russia Platinum Venture Worth $4.8b

Zimbabwe, Russia Platinum Venture Worth $4.8bZimbabwe, Russia Platinum Venture Worth $4.8b

Top Zimbabwean and Russian officials on Tuesday launched a platinum mine joint venture that will start producing platinum in 2017 with ultimate investment mounting to $4.8 billion.

Located 70 km west of Harare, the 6,500-hectare Darwendale platinum mine is billed to become Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mine when partial development is reached in 2021 with projected annual production of 530,000 ounces, Xinhua quoted officials as saying.

Zimbabwe, which holds the 2nd largest platinum reserves in the world after South Africa, is currently producing 430,000 oz of platinum annually from 3 mines which are Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa.

The Darwendale mine is owned by a consortium of Zimbabwean investors operating under the name Pen East and Russian investors including VI Holdings, Rostec and Vnesheconombank.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attended the launch ceremony.

Speaking at the cermony, Hesphina Rukato, the Chairperson of the mining group, Great Dyke Investments, said the mine will be developed in 3 phases, with the 1st phase running from Y 2014 to Y 2017 entailing exploration, infrastructure development and commissioning of mining facilities.

The 2nd phase from 2018 to 2021 will entail the establishment of a new mine and expansion of concentration capacity to produce 530,000 oz of platinum per year.

The 3rd and full development phase will run from 2022 to 2024 and will see the expansion of platinum production to 800,000 oz per year.

Rukato said the cost of the project for mining and establishment of a smelter is $3b but will rise to $4.8b after the establishment of a refinery between 2022 and 2024. The mining project will create 2,000 jobs in the 1st phase and a minimum of 5,000 in each of the 2 other phases.

Rukato explained that exploration work for the project started in Y 2006, but was suspended after encountering financial difficulties. New investors who came in Y 2013 resuscitated the project.

Speaking at the same occasion, Zimbabwean Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said the project will start adding 250,000 oz to Zimbabwe’s total platinum production in 2017.

He said with four more platinum concessions, Zimbabwe could easily reach 1m Platinum oz per year in the next 5 yrs if these four were fully developed.