The military is terminating its platinum mining deal with a Chinese firm to pave the way for new investors after over a decade of unfruitful engagement.
The development comes after Global Platinum (GPR) which was established in 2004 by the army and Chinese firm, Wanbao Rexco, has failed to mine a single ounce of the white metal from 520 million ounce platinum
resources rich mine along the Great Dyke area.
GPR technical manager Retired Brigadier General Livingstone Chineka told Business Times that the government is officially terminating the deal to
pave way for other investors.
“We are fed up with Wanbao Rexco since they came here in 2004 employing their own people and exploiting the country’s platinum resources for absolutely nothing, we can’t accept that.
“We knew that there was nowhere we were going with that deal but Covid-19 has made them accept that the deal is no longer in 2020 as world economies continue to crash due to the effects of the epidemic. The position is that Wanbao is no longer part of GPR and we expect the new investors to come on board when the lockdown restrictions come to an end,” Chineka said.
The army-Chinese marriage has been rocky amid claims the foreign investor was allegedly fleecing off the locals. The dispute centres on allegations that the company only employed Chinese explorers to carry out pre-feasibility and feasibility studies at inflated prices. Wanbao has spent over US$80m in exploration and feasibility studies.
A recent audit also stoked suspicions after US$20m was unaccounted for.
The Chinese company which was spending US$1m for maintenance
has finally dumped the project due to viability challenges.
Chinese feasibility studies were said to cost more than what the local
studies cost as the Asians wanted to take more money from the deal.
In January this year, the army and Chinese investors met VicePresident Chiwenga to plot the way forward for the platinum miner.
The parties agreed to work together but the situation did not take time
as Covid-19 intensified in March and everything stopped.
GPR is said to have untapped platinum claims of 86,7km2 which
is a way bigger than those of Ngezi, Mimosa and Unki mines combined.
Chineka said they were convinced that the argument about the project is not based on the economic viability of the project but completely driven by financial difficulties on the part of the Chinese partners.
He argued that the root of all their problems with their Chinese
counterparts was the failure by Wanbao to respect and honour
the local people as all personnel, materials came from China without
any benefit to the local people.
He also said petty things like exercise books, tissues and all stationery came all from the Far East yet there are a lot of local companies and skilled workers who can do the job.
When contacted for comment Wanbao officials could not pick their mobile phones.
Zimbabwe holds one of the world’s largest known platinum deposits and has been pushing mining firms operating in the country to build refineries to stop the export of raw platinum ore to earn more foreign currency.