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Zimbabwe Seeks Mineral Reserves Through State Mining Company

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April 24 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe is equipping the state-owned Mining Promotion Corp. to drive the search for new mineral reserves together with external partners, Mines Minister Walter Chidakwa said.

Minerals exploration and the potential for finding new reserves could help the southern African country update its database and attract fresh investors in its mining industry, Chidakwa said by phone yesterday from the capital, Harare.

The MPC’s board of directors will start recruiting a chief executive officer “and put in place a team that will drive the exploration activities,” Chidakwa said.

Zimbabwe has the world’s biggest platinum and chrome reserves after South Africa. It also has deposits of gold, coal and iron ore. Mining is the biggest source of foreign exchange, with platinum group metals and gold leading tobacco as the nation’s largest exports. The nation hasn’t done detailed, countrywide minerals exploration in almost three decades, which has resulted in the government relying on private investors to quantify resources, Chidakwa said.

Efforts to conduct any exploration have been stymied by lack of equipment and skills, Zimbabwe Geological Survey Director Themba Hawadi told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. on Jan. 19.

Companies that operate in the country include Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Aquarius Platinum Ltd.

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The government has set aside $5 million to finance the company, which will outsource most exploration work.

“There are certain areas they must outsource because they might not have the expertise or the equipment,” Chidakwa said.

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp., another state-owned company, has over the past years conducted limited exploration without discovering minerals, Chidakwa said.

“There has been some bit of exploration but perhaps not sufficient,” Chidakwa said. “If there are any new discoveries it will make it easier to attract prospective investors. Decisions on investment will be taken much faster.”

Platinum for immediate delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1,403 an ounce at 7:18 a.m. in London, paring the advance this year to 2.3 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Felix Njini in Windhoek at fnjini@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Ana Monteiro, Alex Devine

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