Negotiations since 2012 already. Zimbabwe is reportedly in talks with Russia for the supply of military helicopters in exchange for platinum deposits.
In 2014, Zimbabwe concluded an arms-for-platinum deal with Russia worth a reported $3bn, bypassing both a European arms embargo and its lack of hard currency to swap rights to the Darwendale platinum concession for the provision of an undisclosed number of MiG-35 fighter jets. The list of Russian commercial engagements with Africa is long. Russian aluminium group Rusal mines bauxite in Guinea. Alrosa, the Kremlin-controlled diamond miner planning to enter Zimbabwe, already has assets in Angola and Botswana.
The event was attended by His Excellency President Robert Mugabe, members of the National Parliament and the Government of Zimbabwe, local community leaders, business representatives, prominent public figures of Zimbabwe and private sector top managers of both countries.
The Darwendale Project’s unveiling was preceded by the first meeting of the Russian-Zimbabwean intergovernmental commission, held in Harare on September 15th, 2014, chaired by Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov and Zimbabwe’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.
The Darwendale Project is being implemented by the Russian-Zimbabwean joint venture company Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Ltd established on a parity basis between Russian and Zimbabwean companies. The Russian part is represented by a specially set up company, OJSC Afromet.
The Darwendale PGM deposit is a part of the Great Dyke area stretching from the north to the south across Zimbabwe, This deposit is one of the world’s largest reserves of PGMs (platinum group metals: platinum, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, iridium, osmium). Its unique ores also contain gold, nickel and copper.
The resource base of the Darwendale deposit is estimated at approximately 45 million ounces (1,400 t) of PGMs.
The Darwendale Project’s development strategy implies phased construction of a mining and processing complex. with a capacity of 9.75 million tonnes of ore per year, with a smelter designed to produce commercial products (PGMs in converter matte) at a rate of 800 thousand ounces (25 t) per year. The total investment in the Project’s full scale development will approximate to $3 billion.
22 January 2018
Mr Mnangagwa left Moscow with agreements for Russian investment in Zimbabwe’s diamond industry, a fertiliser supply contract and two financing deals worth $267m. While lacking the financial firepower of China or the longstanding trade relations of former colonial powers, Russia has sought to use its military exports, security apparatus and state-controlled natural resource companies to gain footholds across the continent.
Rosatom, the state-run nuclear monopoly, is working in Zambia and Rwanda. Russian geologists are active in Madagascar, Algeria, Libya and Ghana. Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, is developing oil and gasfields in Egypt, Mozambique and Algeria, and rival Lukoil has projects in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.
During a recent visit to Russia, CAR’s defence minister told state media that there was a “possibility” of Moscow opening a full military base in the country.
Russia sold twice as much weaponry to African countries in 2017 as it did in 2012, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Between 2013 and 2017, Russia supplied 39 per cent of Africa’s imported arms — compared with 17 per cent from China and 11 per cent from the US.
The former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene told an inquiry into so-called “state capture” that he had been sacked in 2015 because of his refusal to sign guarantees for a R1tn ($70bn) nuclear deal with Rosatom . His replacement with someone considered more pliable triggered such a sharp fall in the rand that the incident came to be known as “Nenegate”.
Rostec says it is interested in working with African countries that want to develop their defence sector.
“Many countries on the African continent are traditional partners of Russia in military and technical cooperation, quite familiar with the quality of Russian weapons,” Rostec said.
Soviet weapons still used in Africa and requiring repairs could also support demand for Russian arms, it added.
“Civil projects have always aided weapons exports, that’s why Rostec, which covers both civil and defence sectors, may well act as a link between civil projects and weapons sales,” Makiyenko added.
Russia exported $15 billion of weapons in 2014 and has an order book worth $40 billion for weapons over the next 3-4 years, with the biggest buyers from India, China, the Middle East and Latin America. (Additional reporting by Alexander Winning and Polina Devitt; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
Moscow was an active supplier of weapons to Africa before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it lost the bulk of its market share. It is now the world’s second-largest arms exporter behind the United States but sales to Africa make up a relatively small fraction of its total sales volume.
The conglomerate, which controls hundreds of firms ranging from arms exporter Rosoboronexport to the world’s top titanium producer VSMPO-Avisma, sees the projects as a door-opener in Africa, particularly to its fast-growing arms market.
Apart from proceeds from the project itself, building the crude oil refinery (in Uganda) opens markets for products of all Rostec’s companies and Russian companies as a whole,” Rostec said in a statement to Reuters.
The company and its chief executive, Sergei Chemezov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, face sanctions over Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region and Western accusations, which Moscow denies, of supplying separatists with weapons and troops.
RT Global Resources, a 100-percent owned Rostec subsidiary, won the contract to build and operate the refinery in February, raising concerns among some Ugandan opposition lawmakers about the selection of a company closely linked to Russian arms exports.
Rostec said the project was launched in 2013, well before the introduction of sanctions, and remained interesting in economic terms despite them.
The first stage of the Uganda project will require $2 billion and the second $1.7 billion, with the peak of investments expected in 2018-19, it said.
Rostec did not comment in detail on its involvement in the platinum-mining project in Zimbabwe. Russian development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), which is expected to provide finance for the project and is also under sanctions, only said a cooperation agreement had been signed by partners in the project.
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