Russian deal gains momentum

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WHEN Zimbabwe signed the US$4,2 billion deal with Russia, there were some who were sceptical.
Not to be outdone was the so-called independent media.
Headlines such as, ‘Russian platinum deal in limbo’ or ‘Doubts over Russia deal’ had become common.
There was no movement in Darwendale following the signing of the mega deal, they said.
Just like the Chinese mega deals, they dismissed the platinum deal as a pie in the sky.
But work has been underway in Darwendale since 2014.
Russia is targeting to produce more than 3 000 tonnes of platinum per annum by 2018 as trade and investment deals between Zimbabwe and Russia gather pace, an official has said.
Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, who was in the country last week, said they were targeting to invest billions in the mining sector, with a multi-billion-dollar platinum project already underway in Darwendale.
“We’ve already started investing in the mining sector as we’re exploring platinum deposits in Darwendale,” said Manturov.
“This project started years ago and it is going on well.
“We will start mining by the end of this year and by 2018, we will be producing over 3 000 tonnes of platinum per year.”
The Russians have already secured funding for the project whose investment is expected to reach at least US$4,2 billion over the next eight years.
Manturov said the Great Dyke Investments had embarked on a large-scale exploration of platinum deposits with more than 40 000 metres of exploratory drilling done.
This is out of the total drilling of
300 000 running metres planned for this year and next year.
The Great Dyke Investments is a joint venture project between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and three Russian companies, VI Holdings, Rostec which is a technical partner and Vneshconombank, the financier.
In the past year, Great Dyke Investments built modem staff quarters and a block of offices, more than six kilometres of roads as well as modern core storage of international standards.
The project will be implemented in three phases with the first stage running between 2015 and 2017, mainly involving exploration and establishment in infrastructure such as roads.
The second phase will involve the opening of two underground mines and a smelter and this is expected to take about five years.
Between 2022 and 2024, the company will set up a refinery.
Upon completion, it will result in the establishment of a 6 500-hectare Darwendale platinum mine producing 800 000 ounces of platinum, pushing Zimbabwe’s output to over one million ounces and creating 8 000 jobs in the process.
Darwendale has one of the largest reserves of the metal with stocks averaging at least 40 million ounces exploration work indicates.
Manturov said Russia would also be involved in the supply of Russian equipment for the agriculture sector and invest in the energy sector.
He said consultations were ongoing over a US$34 million partnership with the Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
“One of our companies will build an industrial complex in Harare and finance the purchase of top-of-the-range equipment that will assist the storage and milling of different products,” said Manturov.
“The project is expected to assist the GMB to store enough grain for the nation and ensure food security.
“The equipment includes a storage elevator that has a capacity of 50 000 tonnes.
“The elevator can also store other kinds of cereals.
“The project also includes a 300-tonne mill for wheat and a 500-tonne mill for maize.
“We will also provide chemicals to treat all types of grain.”
Manturov said the project would kick off once a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the two governments. 
Meanwhile, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, who accompanied Manturov during a ZITF tour of the Russian stands, said Zimbabwe would acquire heavy machinery for agriculture purposes that works 24 hours in three shifts of eight hours.
Dr Made said the type of equipment includes irrigation equipment, agro-processing machinery as well as input supply of fertiliser, chemicals and vaccines.
“Irrigation is key to climate change mitigation and we will be investing in heavy equipment,” said Made in one of the daily papers.
“Every body of water must be made productive.
“As a ministry, we do not concern ourselves with those who dwell on the negative but we are interested in positive developmental strategic things.”
Speaking on the relations between Zimbabwe and Russia, Dr Made said the ministry was looking to directly export horticulture products that include oranges to Russia and not through third parties as at present.
He said other export products would include beef and grain.
“Trade between the two countries will increase as we invest in machinery and equipment for primary production to enable us to sell our products,” said Dr Made.
“Our aim is to first buy fully assembled machinery as factories cannot be set up overnight locally hence we have to start strategically with equipment ready for us.”
The GMB project is expected to assist the nation to store enough grain and ensure food security.
Wholly owned by Government, GMB has 84 depots with a storage capacity of about 4,5 million metric tonnes.
The country imported more than
600 000 tonnes of maize from Ukraine and Zambia to avert hunger following the El-Nino-induced drought.
Zimbabwe needs about 1,4 million tonnes of maize to take the country to the next season in 2017.

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