David Brown. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
David Brown. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

Russia-Zimbabwe joint venture Great Dyke Investments (GDI) says it is in talks with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) as well as Russian and South African investors to raise US$500m for its platinum project in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is the world’s third-largest producer of platinum after SA and Russia.

The company says it is wrapping up financing for the project and expects to begin mine construction in 2020.

In 2017, a feasibility study by SA’s DRA Group showed “robust economics for phase one of the project, which was later complemented with a basic economic assessment confirming the economic potential of the full-scale three-phased project”.

Newly appointed GDI executive chair David Brown said, “There remains a lot of hard work to be done before we can commence development on the ground, but I am confident that the Darwendale project has the potential to become a significant low-cost platinum group metal producer, ultimately becoming a major part of the global PGM industry in the mid-term.”

Great Dyke Investments announced the appointment of Brown, a former CEO of Implats, on Wednesday.

Brown also served as Implats CFO from 1999 to 2006. He resigned from Implats in 2012 to pursue personal interests.

“Brown has a rich experience in platinum as he was instrumental in the development of Implats’ Zimbabwe’s asset, Zimplats, which is the country’s largest platinum miner,” GDI said.

In a statement Great Dyke vice-chair Igor Higer said the company plans to secure funding by March 2020.

“Peak funding for the Darwendale phase project is estimated at more than US$500m. The main financial partner of the project is the Afreximbank, which has been acting as the mandated lead arranger since early 2018.

“According to the agreement, Afreximbank’s mandate covers both debt for the project financing and equity raising portion in the amount sufficient for the successful implementation of phase one of the project.”

Higer said at a production rate of 3,5-million tons a year, GDI will produce an average of 280,000oz of PGM and gold at phase one, while the second phase will increase capacity to 10.5-million tons a year and PGM production of 860,000oz a year.

Zimbabwe is banking on ramping up platinum production as PGMs  are earmarked to rake in US$3bn by 2023, in line with the country’s target of US$12bn annually from minerals.

Two other new platinum mines, Karo Mining Holdings, which is part-owned by SA’s Tharisa, and Bravura, owned by Nigerian billionaire Benedict Peters, have concessions to mine platinum in the country.