By Onome Amuge
Great Dykes Investment (GDI), a joint venture established on a 50/50 basis between Russia’s Vi Holding and Zimbabwean companies, is set to complete its $2 billion project aimed at developing Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mine.
The project reached a feasible stage following approval by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which completed a due diligence study allowing it to proceed with a $500 million syndicated funding programme.
Alex Ivanov, GDI’s chief executive officer, who confirmed the completion of the due diligence programme stated that he expects the funding to be in place by the end of 2020.
He disclosed that $100 million has been spent on exploration costs and a significant amount of investment is needed. He, however, envisaged that the specific stake to be acquired by potential investors would depend largely on their overall appetite for the project.
Zimbabwe currently possesses the world’s third largest platinum reserves after South Africa and Russia and the project also known as the ‘Darwendale project’ is a pivotal plan by the Zimbabwean government to revive its reportedly stagnant economy.
If the project becomes a success, GDI will join South African companies, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. in producing the precious metals in the landlocked Southern Africa country.
Recently, some workers have been engaged in drilling for ore samples, others constructed roads needed for earthmoving equipment while training of crews to operate that equipment was also taking place.
According to Ivanov, commissioning of the mine could begin in 2023 if funding is forthcoming. When completed it is expected to produce 860,000 ounces of platinum group metals and gold a year.
Platinum, as well as gold and diamonds, are the major sources of foreign exchange for Zimbabwe. Despite its massive amassment of precious metals, activity at the mine site is a rare sign of potential investment as Zimbabwe still struggles to attract foreign investment and pay its debt to multilateral organisations, inclusive of the World Bank, an economic deficiency blamed on the government’s poor economic management and human rights abuses.