Controversial Israeli businessman, Luka Ignatius Fabris, is setting up a multi-million-dollar mineral processing plant at Tafuna Hills in Shamva district, Mashonaland Central, Business Times has established.
Fabris confirmed the development saying he was undertaking the project with some partners.
“This is a processing plant for various minerals including gold and as you are aware this project has different partners. We are still in the initial stages of the project. The project is at Tafuna Hills in Mashonaland Central. I cannot divulge the size of the investment at the moment,” Fabris said.
Fabris has been subject to controversy.
In 2018, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) froze a US$1m deposit held by a local bank amid suspicions it could be proceeds from an illegal gold deal involving 27 kilogrammes of bullion exported by a company listed in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s externalisation list released that same year.
The gold was allegedly exported from Zimbabwe by Fabris, a director of Fabris Construction and Spartan Security (Pvt) Ltd and delivered to African Gold Refinery — which focuses on gold processing and trading — in Uganda.
The construction of a processing plant by Fabris comes at a time when the RBZ has moved in to plug gold leakages by introducing a cocktail of incentives.
Recently, the RBZ introduced a 5% incentive for those who deliver above 20kg a month.
In addition, the RBZ cut royalties and the cost of importing cash on small scale miners to improve gold production in the country amid revelations the economy was losing over 2.5 tonnes per month to smuggling.
The central bank also allowed small scale miners to sell gold at the prevailing international gold price.
This increased investor appetite for establishing state-of-the-art processing facilities.
Gold deliveries to the country’s sole buyer and marketer of the yellow metal more than doubled to 2.92 tonnes in June from 1.409 tonnes during the same period last year on incentives as experts say the upward trajectory would be maintained throughout the year.
In a bid to boost production, gold miners also want financial support through gold loans to boost production of the yellow metal as the government targets an output of 100 tonnes by 2023.
Government has set an ambitious gold production target of 100 tonnes by 2023. Gold is expected to contribute at least US$4bn annually towards achieving the mining sector’s target of S$12bn industry by 2023.
Government is also working with various investors to capacitate small to medium scale gold miners.
Gold production declined over the past two years but miners have remained optimistic of the country’s potential to achieve its target of producing 100 tonnes annually.
Gold production had dropped from 35 tonnes in 2018 to around 20 tonnes last year due to an unfavourable pricing regime that has fuelled smuggling of the yellow metal.
A number of mining and fiscal measures have since been adopted by the government to provide a window of opportunity to revive production and grow the sector.
These included the review of the foreign currency retention ratio in a bid to boost production.