By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
05 August 2014
A Russian consortium is set to invest $1.6 billion in a platinum mining project at Rushchrome Darwendale, following a deal with the Zim government last week.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa were in Russia recently to finalise the deal – a joint venture with the ZANU PF government.
Chidhakwa told the press that the agreement will be signed in September with mining expected to commence next year. The Russian consortium includes Vi Holdings, Rostec and investment bank Vneshekonombank.
The bank and its chief executive Sergey Chemekov were recently placed under American and EU sanctions over the Russian government’s role in the Ukraine conflict.
How this will affect the platinum deal remains to be seen but German institution Commerzbank is in trouble with the Americans for clearing payments from Zimbabwe’s recent Dubai diamond sale in violation of the US measures.
France’s largest bank, BNP Paribas, has been fined almost $9 billion for the same offence, sending “shockwaves” among bankers, particularly those dealing with Zimbabwe, the Sunday Mail said earlier this week.
Rushcrome is co-owned by the Zim government and “the Centre of Business Co-operation with Foreign Countries, an association of machinery and defence firms,” according to the State-run Herald newspaper.
A Russian newspaper last month reported that total project investment is expected to reach $3 billion. The Darwendale fields are the world’s second largest, with a production capacity of at least 600,000 tonnes of platinum expected once the project starts.
The deal with the Russians is just one of several others that the ZANU PF officials have signed with the eastern European country as well as China.
Despite the heavy presence of the two countries in the lucrative mining sector and new deals being signed, Zimbabwe is facing a serious economic crisis, raising fears that the ruling party is mortgaging the country’s natural resources for the benefit of a few in Mugabe’s government.