Minister sweats over idle platinum miner

Mines minister Winston Chitando

INVESTORS in one of Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum projects — Todal Mining — were this week said to have dumped the project, turning the heat on Mines minister Winston Chitando to cancel its licence.

Todal’s claims were taken from Anglo American Platinum over a decade ago and handed to Central African Mining & Exploration. The company was later bought by Eurasian Natural Resources, which later became Eurasian Resources Group.

The claims are adjacent to AngloPlat’s Unki Mine in Shurugwi.

Government sources close to the project said this week authorities had not heard from Todal investors for a while now.

Senior officials In the Mines ministry told the Zimbabwe Independent that administratively, Todal was changing hands, but would not elaborate.

But others, however, said the project’s international shareholders and local partners had no capacity to run mining operations.

“The lack of development at Bokai and Kinonde concessions by Todal Mining has continued to be of concern to authorities,” a source at the Mines ministry told the Independent. “Chitando is now under increasing pressure to cancel the deal at a time when investment in platinum mining continues to attract investors.

“The proprietors of the project are nowhere to be found. They have literally dumped the project. One of the local partners (name supplied) has been globetrotting and is nowhere to be found.”

Pfungwa Kunaka, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines, only confirmed that there were changes underway in terms of Todal’s administration at the ministry.

“There were indications that the project was being transferred to Defold, which is another parastatal,” Kunaka said.

“We are still gathering information internally and will revert,” he added.

Defold is a parastatal in the ministry, which is now chaired by ex- mines permanent secretary, Onismo Mazai Moyo.

Mazai said he could not comment as the transfer of Todal to Delford was not yet complete.

Todal’s local partner Valentine Garacho did not respond to questions.

Questions sent to Eurasia Resources Group via e-mail were also not responded to.

Sources told the Independent that political bigwigs in the Midlands province were backing a well-known mining tycoon to take over the concessions.

The mining tycoon already has a huge footprint in the gold, ferrochrome and platinum sectors.

“There is serious lobbying by some Midlands politicians who have queried Todal Mining’s capacity to execute that multi-billion-dollar project,” a source said.

“Midlands politicians are pushing for this mining tycoon to take over the concessions. They worry that the project has been dormant for too long and this was not good for the province, which already boasts of various successful mining projects,” the source said.

With a 20-year life, Todal was expected to produce an average of 150 000 tonnes of platinum ore per month but required US$250 million investment to start operations.

The Independent is reliably informed that the government has been piling pressure on Todal Mining Limited to come up with a roadmap on starting operations.

Chitando was instructed by Cabinet last year to follow-up on the project and he informed Todal Mining that its concessions could be seized because no progress was made in developing them.

Last year, Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-Cabinet briefing said Cabinet wanted the platinum project up and running.

“Cabinet also considered the need to get the Todal-Bokai Platinum Project next to Unki Mine into production as soon as possible so that it contributes to the US$12 billion mining industry milestone. Mines minister was also tasked to follow up on the issue accordingly,” Mutsvangwa said then.

Zimbabwe has the world’s third-biggest platinum group metal reserves but to date, only three platinum projects are in full production. Great Dyke Investments’ Darwendale project is yet to take off after failing to raise funding while Karo Resources project is still in the initial stages.

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