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New Foreign Players in Zimbabwe Platinum Sector Draw Scrutiny, Criticism

Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire said Huwanoi of China and South African company Amari Resources are soon expected to start platinum production in Chegutu and Ngezi

Two foreign firms with backing from Zimbabwean indigenous consortiums are set to venture into the lucrative platinum sector but critics have dismissed the companies as fronts for officials of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire - a member of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai - said Huwanoi of China and Amari Resources of South Africa were expected to start platinum production in Chegutu, Mashonaland West province, and Ngezi, Midlands province, respectively.

He said the two companies have complied with the nation’s Indigenization Act because they are operating in Zimbabwe in partnership with a consortium of local businesses and the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Chimanikire said he did not know the amount of investment provided by the two firms, but said they have started bringing in heavy machinery for platinum production.

Indications are that Amari Resources, through its subsidiary Zimari Platinum, a joint venture with ZMDC, will invest some US$200 million over the next three years.

Chimanikire said Zimbabwe will in future apply the Mines and Minerals Act, which is now being revised by the government, to ensure that mining firms invest 10 percent of their annual turnover in surrounding communities.

Critics said they are particularly skeptical about Chinese investments in Zimbabwe as they mainly benefit President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

Parliamentary Mines Committee member Moses Mare charged that Chinese investors exploit Zimbabweans and leave more scars than benefits. “This has been the trend over the years and I do not see any change in terms of Chinese investments turning around the fortunes of local people,” Mare said in an interview with VOA.

Zimbabwe is the world’s third largest producer of platinum after South Africa and Russia. The sector is dominated by Impala Platinum of South Africa and Anglo Platinum.