The Sunday News
Roberta Katunga, Senior Business Reporter
RUSSIA is targeting to produce more than 3 000 tonnes of platinum by 2018 as trade and investment deals between Zimbabwe and Russia gather pace, an official has said.
Speaking during a tour of Russian Federation’s companies exhibiting at the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair on Friday, Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov expressed confidence in the relationship between the two countries saying Russia was happy to exchange technologies with Zimbabwe and support the country in economic development.
Russia is in the process of setting up a $1 billion platinum project in Darwendale which is expected to create thousands of jobs.
“We are heavily invested in Zimbabwe’s mining sector as we thrive to have the biggest platinum mine which we want in 2018 to produce over 3 000 tonnes of the mineral,” said Minister Manturov.
The Darwendale project which is at the exploration stage, with more than 40 000 metres of exploratory drilling done, is one of the many projects that Russia will invest in Zimbabwe, according to Minister Manturov.
The project will be implemented in three phases with the first stage running between 2015 and 2017, mainly involving exploration and establishment in infrastructure such as roads. The second phase will involve the opening of two underground mines and a smelter and this is expected to take about five years. Between 2022 and 2024, the company will set up a refinery.
Minister Manturov said Russia would also be involved in the supply of Russian equipment for the agriculture sector and would also invest in the energy sector.
“Our companies that are exhibiting at the trade fair brought samples of the equipment that they have and they are willing to penetrate the Zimbabwean market. We are looking forward to more trade relations between our two countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Joseph Made who accompanied Minister Manturov during his tour of the Russian stands said Zimbabwe would acquire heavy machinery for agriculture purposes that works 24 hours in three shifts of eight hours.
Dr Made said the type of equipment includes irrigation equipment, agro-processing machinery as well as input supply of fertiliser, chemicals and vaccines.
“Irrigation is key to climate change mitigation and we will be investing in heavy equipment. Every body of water must be turned into production. As a ministry we do not concern ourselves with those who dwell on the negative but we are interested in positive developmental strategic things,” he said.
Dr Made warned every parastatal under his ministry to take note of the serious tone he has implemented in the sector saying only hard work was recognised in agriculture. Speaking on the relations between Zimbabwe and Russia, Dr Made said the ministry was looking to directly export horticulture products that include oranges to Russia and not through third parties as at present. He said other export products would include beef and grain.
“Trade between the two countries will increase as we invest in machinery and equipment for primary production to enable us to sell our products. Our aim is to first buy fully assembled machinery as factories cannot be set up overnight locally hence we have to start strategically with equipment ready for us,” said Dr Made.
Dr Made said Zimbabwe shared Russia’s position on its non-acceptance of GMO material citing that Russia would be the leading country to develop non-GMO food supply. Russian exhibitors that took part at this year’s ZITF included Russian Helicopters PJSC, ROSTSELMASH (agricultural equipment), KAMAZ (heavy duty truck manufacturer), Elevatorprodmashstroi (flour milling and grain storage equipment), Bourevestnik, Inc. (research, development and manufacturing of X-ray equipment for industrial and scientific purposes), Power Machines (power plant engineering), online business-to-business trading platform B2B-Export.COM and others. This year’s exhibition was held under the theme: “Innovate-Integrate-Industrialise”.