Can the Russians break the South African monopoly in platinum mining in Zimbabwe?

A Russian consortium, comprising Vi Holding, Rostec and Vneshekonombank, is planning to invest up to US$3 billion in a Darwendale platinum project in Zimbabwe breaking the monopoly enjoyed by three South African companies at the moment.

The consortium has invested in Ruschrome Mining and plans to produce 600 000 ounces a year.

Currently, the major platinum miners in Zimbabwe are South African companies: Anglo-Platinum, Impala Platinum and Aquarius which is in a joint venture with Implats.

The government has given the mining companies an ultimatum to establish a refinery but the companies have been arguing that production is too low to justify the setting up of a refinery. They said production should be at least 500 000 ounces a year.

The Russian consortium, which comprises a private company and two state-owned companies, plans to complete its assessment of the field’s resources by the end of this year with construction of the $500 million mining and processing complex slated to start next year. It says the complex should be completed by 2018.

Its planned production alone will make a refinery viable.



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