Companies

Russian investor retains interest in coal project

TINASHE MAKICHI

THE Russian investor retains interest in Liberation Mining’s Matabeleland North coal mining venture and is assessing the environment before reopening the project, a top official has said.

Liberation Mining was founded in 2006 by three Zimbabweans investors—Peter Mutsinya, Rainor Robinson and Gavin Von Platen— who entered into a joint venture agreement with Russian investor, IR Trading in 2017.

Liberation Mining CEO Victor Tskhovrebov told Business Times the Russian investor will keep the project.

“Re-opening operations is hard at the moment but we are keeping the project for now while waiting for better times,” Tskhovrebov said.

The coal mining project has been dogged by a vicious shareholder fight which cost Liberation Mining operations.

The previous impasse between coal miner, Liberation Mining founding shareholders and Russian investor, IR Trading Limited Shareholders was fully resolved with the local partners having issued fully paid up shares for the company to the Russian investor.

The Matabeleland North-based coal miner halted operations in 2018 due to shareholder disputes.

A High Court application last year demanding the handover of shares by local partners to Russian investors in the coal mine unearthed a hidden agenda by a consortium of local partners to defraud the foreign investor, deviating from the original facets of signed shareholder agreements.

This came after local partners failed to transfer 49% shareholding to IR Trading despite the commencement of operations at the Matabeleland North based mine.

The local partners are said to have been demanding the Russians to first cough up US$39m for the stake, a position which the Russians labelled fraudulent and non-existent.

The coal mining concern plans to inject US$100m over the next five years targeting a production of 15m tonnes per annum in 2022.

The company is also among the 24 entities that were given special grants by the government to mine coal and methane gas along the rich belt in 2003 but failed to get investment for the project.

In 2018, Liberation Mining had plans to mine between 1.5m tonnes and 2m tonnes of coal.

The project is worth an estimated US$500m.

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