Global mining giants endorse Zim

Source: Global mining giants endorse Zim | Sunday Mail (Business)

Ishemunyoro Chingwere 

Business Reporter

Two global mineral extraction giants have endorsed Zimbabwe as a conducive mining investment destination, poised to attract billions of international capital on the back of friendly policies, stable and peaceful business environment.

Australia Stock Exchange listed firm, Prospect Resources and New York Stock Exchange-listed Caledonia Mining Corporation, have become the latest leading international investors to endorse Zimbabwe as a safe and compelling investment destination.

Zimbabwe, under the New Dispensation, is vigorously pushing the “Zimbabwe is open for business” policy aimed at luring international capital back into the economy.

The new drive is directed at fostering rapid economic growth towards the attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

The lure has found takers on the international arena with a number of projects, particularly in the mining sector, already at different stages of implementation.

Prospect Resources Plc is the developer of Arcadia lithium project while Caledonia Mining Corporation is the parent company behind Blanket Mine in Gwanda and is also carrying out exploration works at another asset in Gweru.

Speaking on the sidelines of the One-to-One investment mining conference in Capetown, South Africa last week, Caledonia Mining Corporation chief financial officer, Mr Mark Learmonth, told Assay TV that there is a wrong perception about Zimbabwe that is detached from reality.

Caledonia is one of the country’s largest gold producers with an annual turnover of over 55 000 ounces, but is targeting to grow this to 500 000 ounces (around 15, 5 tonnes) by 2030.

“The perception of doing business in Zimbabwe is that it is an extremely difficult place,” said Mr Learmonth, “and I will say that is not entirely fair.

“One of the things that people fail to understand is that Zimbabwe, unlike many other places in Africa is actually quite a stable (and) peaceful place.

“We don’t have any significant security issues, we don’t have difficulty transporting material around, we don’t have difficulty with workers being attacked, or the site being attacked which happens in many other jurisdictions.

“We sell our gold to the Government, which we are comfortable doing. It means that the gold is processed much more quickly and much more efficient and naturally rather cheaper than if we were to export it ourselves,” he said.

Mr Learmonth said the company has a workforce of about 1 640, all of whom are locals. For its production, he said the company gets paid in a combination of US dollars and the local currency with the local component catering for local expenses while the US dollar component is, “more than adequate to cover the cost of material that we import around the mine and then to repatriate profits,” he said.

In a separate interview, Prospect Resources managing director Mr Sam Hosack, told an Australian media outlet — The Market Herald, that the company had an excellent working relationship with the Government and that Zimbabwe is truly open for business as per President Mnangagwa’s declaration.

He said, in Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, President Mnangagwa has deployed an industry expert who knows what it takes to get the mining sector going as per his directions.

“Our relationship with the Government of Zimbabwe is critical to our success and we currently have a very strong relationship,” said Mr Hosack.

“That’s (the strong relationship) underpinned by Minister Chitando, he is an industry individual, he is a professional, he has worked his way through the ranks so he knows what it takes to start a mining business and he knows what it takes to bring investment in the country.

“So I absolutely believe he is really well rehearsed on what we are trying to do and what challenges we face.

“So every time we encounter these issues or approach him we have a very receptive ministry and I think that speaks about how they (Zimbabwe) are open for business.

“On the materiality of that commitment, we have been part of the rapid results programme which saw us and a handful of other industry projects handpicked and monitored by the President of the country and his office.

“Lately, we have been awarded the Special Economic Zone licensing and that’s going to go a long way to bringing in financial support and investor confidence.

“So we are getting the support we need and we can see that Zimbabwe is open for business,” he said.

Zimbabwe has identified mining and agriculture to provide a quick start to economic turnaround.

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