Two leading international miners have endorsed Zimbabwe as a conducive mining investment destination, arguing the country is poised to attract billions of international capital on the back of friendly policies, stable and peaceful business environment.
Australia Stock Exchange listed firm, Prospect Resources and New York Stock Exchange-listed Caledonia Mining Corporation, have become the latest leading international investors to endorse Zimbabwe as a safe and compelling investment destination.
Prospect Resources Plc is the developer of Arcadia lithium project while Caledonia Mining Corporation is the parent company behind Blanket Mine in Gwanda and is also carrying out exploration works at another asset in Gweru.
Speaking on the sidelines of the One to One investment mining conference in Capetown, South Africa last week, Caledonia Mining Corporation chief financial officer, Mark Learmonth, told the Assay TV that there is a wrong perception about Zimbabwe that is detached from reality.
Caledonia is one of the country’s largest gold producers with an annual turnover of over 55 000 ounces, but is targeting to grow this to 500 000 ounces (around 15, 5 tonnes) by 2030.
“The perception of doing business in Zimbabwe is that it is an extremely difficult place,” said Learmonth, “and I will say that is not entirely fair. One of the things that people fail to understand is that Zimbabwe, unlike many other places in Africa is actually quite a stable (and) peaceful place.
“We don’t have any significant security issues, we don’t have difficulty transporting material around, we don’t have difficulty with workers being attacked, or the site being attacked which happens in many other jurisdictions.
“We sell our gold to Government, which we are very comfortable doing. It means that the gold is processed much more quickly and much more efficient and naturally rather cheaper than if we were to export it ourselves,” he said.
Learmonth said the company has a workforce of about 1 640, all of whom are locals.
For its production, Mr Learmonth said the company gets paid in a combination of US Dollars and the local currency with the local component catering for local expenses while the US Dollar component is, “more than adequate to cover the cost of material that we import around the mine and then to repatriate profits,” he said.
In a separate interview, Prospect Resources managing director Sam Hosack, told an Australian media outlet – The Market Herald, that the company had an excellent working relationship with Government.
He also said, in Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, President Mnangagwa has deployed an industry expert who knows what it takes to get the mining sector going as per his directions.
“Our relationship with the Government of Zimbabwe is critical to our success and we currently have a very strong relationship,” said Hosack.
“That’s (the strong relationship) underpinned by the Honourable Minister Chitando, he is an industry individual, he is a professional, he has worked his way through the ranks so he knows what it takes to start a mining business and he knows what it takes to bring investment in the country.
“So I absolutely believe he is really well rehearsed on what we are trying to do and what challenges we face.
“So every time we encounter these issues or do approach him we have a very receptive Ministry and I think that speaks about how they (Zimbabwe) are open for business.
“On the materiality of that commitment, we have been part of the rapid results programme which saw us and a handful of other industry projects handpicked and monitored by the President of the country and his office.
“More lately, we have been awarded the Special Economic Zone licensing and that’s going to go a long way to bringing in financial support and investor confidence. So we are getting the support we need and we can see that Zimbabwe is open for business,” he said.
Zimbabwe has identified mining and agriculture to provide quick start to economic turnaround.