Russia, Zimbabwe to Develop Nation’s Biggest Platinum Mine

Russia and Zimbabwe will jointly mine platinum in the African country’s Darwendale district, Russian trade minister Denis Manturov and Zimbabwean foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said in a joint statement.

“The priority for us is the Darwendale Platinum Project,” Manturov said in Harare today, adding that the agreement to dig the metal in Zimbabwe was the “beginning of our bi-lateral cooperation.”

In August Zimbabwe’s Mines Minister Walter Chidakwa said Russia’s OOO VI Holding and state corporations Rostec and Vnesheconombank would invest $1.6 billion in the project, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. At an eventual production capacity of 600,000 ounces per annum it will be the country’s biggest mine for the metal.

Currently South African companies Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Aquarius Platinum Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. are the sole miners of platinum in Zimbabwe, which has the world’s second-biggest deposits of the metal after South Africa. Russia’s OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel is the biggest producer of the metal not based in South Africa.

The venture will be officially opened tomorrow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expected to officiate.

“We are proud that Russia has been chosen to develop on of the richest platinum deposits in Zimbabwe,” Manturov said.

Helicopters, Trucks

Russia’s OMZ Group has signed an agreement with the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp. to supply equipment for the platinum mine, Manturov said.

The Darwendale platinum project was identified at a meeting between Zimbabwean and Russian officials in Moscow in April, Mumbengegwi told reporters.

“This will go a long way towards fulfilling our natural desire to elevate the level of our economic cooperation to the same level as our diplomatic cooperation,” the Zimbabwe foreign minister said.

Russia would also like to supply military hardware, helicopters and trucks to Zimbabwe, Manturov told reporters.

“A good foundation has been laid,” Manturov said. “We have to look for more opportunities for both of us to enter regional markets.”

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