Mining experts and economists are urging Zimbabwe to capacitate the state-owned Mining Promotion Corporation to drive the search for new mineral reserves and carry out an audit of minerals together with external partners to avoid being shortchanged by developed nations.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa is on record as saying Zimbabwe hasn’t done detailed, countrywide minerals exploration in almost three decades, which has resulted in the government relying on private investors to quantify resources.
The need to carry out an audit comes a day after Zimbabwe and Russia signed a mining deal worth $3 billion. The Darwendale Platinum Project was commissioned on Tuesday and Harare says it is set to produce 250,000 ounces of platinum annually over the next 36 months while plans to construct a refinery plant are already underway.
At the signing ceremony, President Robert Mugabe took a swipe at the European Union (EU) calling it “evil men of our world” and praised Russia which dispatched its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as an all-weather friend. Former Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire said Harare must audit its minerals.
Meanwhile, a London-based think tank, Africa Confidential is claiming that Zimbabwe is to boost its inventory of Russian strike aircraft after concluding a US$3 billion platinum-for-arms deal with Russia.
The think tank alleges that Harare is desperate to replenish its armaments, many of them lost in the Congo-Kinshasa war when Zimbabwe intervened to save the late Laurent-Désiré Kabila's regime from insurgents in 1998-2002.
The country could not replenish its lost military hardware due to an arms embargo which the EU and the United States imposed.