Farirai Machivenyika and Conrad Mupesa
Great Dyke Investments yesterday started mining on its Darwendale concessions after years of preparation.
The first box cut, a single rectangular hole made in the surface of the earth was made yesterday and this serves as the opening of most new mines.
The box cut provides a secure and safe entrance to an underground mine.
Great Dyke Investments is a joint venture between Russia’s Vi Holdings and Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture (Pvt) Ltd.
President Mnangagwa’s visit to Russia last year helped to unlock the platinum deal that is worth US$2 billion. The visit also saw the release of $300 million, part of which has helped to start the implementation of the project.
The box that was cut yesterday measured 270m x 80m and is expected to be ready by June.
The mine is expected to produce 180 000 tonnes of ore per month, with a lifespan of 15 years, while the first platinum concentrates will be sold in 2022.
Earth moving equipment was already on site when the first cut was made, an event witnessed by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, his deputy Mr Polite Kambamura, Russian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Krasilnikov Nikolai Vladimirovich and Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa, among other dignitaries.
Minister Chitando said developments at the Great Dyke operations were significant for the mining industry.
“In mining, when you are officiating at the opening of a box cut, that signifies the birth of a child; that signifies the birth of a mine.
“Even the biggest mines in the world started by having a box cut like we are having today, so this indeed is a very big occasion,” said Minister Chitando.
As is common in the mining sector, Minister Chitando named the portal that would be developed from the box cut, choosing Mwendamberi Portal in honour of Chief Chivero under whose jurisdiction the mine falls.
The minister said he hoped Great Dyke Investments will develop more portals and contribute to the achievement of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2030.
“We are looking forward to the development of more portals. We are looking forward to the development of GDI and the growth of this mine and its development.
“You know His Excellency (President Mnangagwa) unveiled the US$12 billion milestone last year and I can say some people were and some are still sceptical that it can be achieved. But what I can assure you is that the US$12 billion is going to be achieved, there is no going back,” he said.
Platinum is expected to contribute US$3 billion to the export target and the minister said the figure was achievable with the coming on board of Great Dyke Investments and Karo Resources, which is expected to start new operations soon to augment production from Zimplats and Mimosa mines that are already operational.
“Zimbabwe is poised to become a major force in platinum production and us being here is part of the process and part of the journey.”
Minister Chitando said he was aware of extensive works that had been undertaken, leading to yesterday’s event.
“I am aware of the extensive test work geologically and metallurgically that have taken place to get us where we are to have a mine having over 120 000 metres of drilling that’s first world standards and GDI has followed first world standards,” he added.
Speaking at the same occasion, Ambassador Vladimirovich said the development of the first portal was a sign of the cordial relations between Russia and Zimbabwe.
“Today we have a tangible result of robust and joint efforts of the Zimbabweans and their Russian partners determined to fulfil the agreements made by President Vladimir Putin and President Mnangagwa in Moscow one year ago, during the historic visit to my country by the leader of the Zimbabwean nation,” he said.
“The Presidents have decided to develop the friendship and partnerships in various spheres and it is remarkable that the Darwendale Project was highlighted by President Putin and President Mnangagwa as a locomotive and driving force of the whole process of cooperation between our two countries.”
He said the project received a major boost in the new dispensation and was acknowledged during the third Russia-Zimbabwe Inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation held in Russia last year.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said the mine will help the province through job creation and contribution to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product.
“Let me hasten to say, this is a huge achievement and blessing for the Norton constituency and the whole province,” she said.
“Apart from our huge contributions in other sectors like farming and tourism, GDI will further contribute to the attainment of Vision 2030 of becoming an upper middle income economy.”
Norton legislator Temba Mliswa said: “This is going to create employment for people in Norton constituency. Zimbabwe and Russia are both on sanctions (from the United States) but this development shows that they can be overcome if we just cooperate.”