Mining major Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) CEO David Brown is upbeat about investment prospects in Zimbabwe.
Speaking to journalists after meeting President Robert Mugabe last week, he said: “The first phase of our investment programme is almost complete and will be officially opened in August.”
Brown was in Zimbabwe ahead of the commissioning, in August, of the $340- million expansion programme at Implats’ Zimbabwe Platinum Mines subsidiary, near the town of Chegutu, some 100 km west of Harare.
The platinum giant has built 1 000 houses for its workers and plans to build more.
Brown said although Implats had been affected by the global economic downturn and a fall in metal prices, he was upbeat about the mining industry’s future.
Brown’s visit came in the wake of renewed investor confidence in Zimbabwe following the formation of the inclusive government comprising Mugabe’s Zanu- PF party and two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu said the new political dispensation had resulted in an upsurge in inquiries from prospective investors.
Brown paid tribute to Mugabe for the support his company had received from the Zimbabwe government during the eight years it had been operating in Zimbabwe.
“We have had support from government and we are definitely not planning to wind up business in Zimbabwe.”
The Zimplats expansion programme has boosted the company’s workforce to 5 000, half of them full-time employees.
Zimplats CEO Alex Mhembere expressed confidence in the company’s future. “We had serious problems in the past years but we managed to raise salaries for our workers and our future is as bright as the metal prices,” he said.
Mpofu said government was encouraged by the response it received from potential investors in the mining industry.
“We have had serious inquiries, especially from the investor world, including [those from] Europe, especially Britain.
“We have also received serious propo- sitions for all types of minerals, [including] platinum, diamonds, gold and . . . minerals like tantalite.”