Zim looks to court wary investors at mining bash

HARARE - Zimbabwe hosts a key mining conference next week in a bid to attract new foreign investors into the market, which it hopes will stimulate economic growth.

The sudden and rapid developments in Zimbabwe late last year, which saw the military essentially remove former President Robert Mugabe and subsequently elevate Emmerson Mnangagwa to the top post, have ushered in a new opportunity for the country to achieve its economic potential as a powerhouse in the region.

The president has repeated his mantra since his inauguration that "Zimbabwe is open for business".

International investors will get a chance to consider the vast investment opportunities in Zimbabwe’s growing mining sector at the indaba running from February 27 to 28 at The Meikles Hotel in Harare.

Zimbabwe’s over century-old mining industry has always needed not only huge amounts of capital but has also been highly labour-intensive.

But Zimbabwe's foreign currency liquidity constraints are scaring the wits out of capital.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has maintained that remedies will stem from: increased production, merchandise exports, foreign direct investment, diaspora remittances, external loans and implementing measures to protect investors' funds.

The conference is being hosted by the London-based MiningReport in conjunction with the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe and the Mines and Mining Development Ministry.

President Mnangagwa will officially open the indaba, which has attracted interest from over 20 countries. He has pledged to make economics and trade cooperation, rather than politics, his government’s main priority “in order to catch up with the region”.

Over 300 high profile decision-makers representing local, regional and international players involved in Zimbabwe’s mining sector are expected to attend the two-day event.

Liberation Mining, who are the conference’s lead sponsors, will be represented by CEO Victoria Tskhovrebov, while co-sponsors African Chrome Fields will be represented by their national project director, Ashruf Kaka.

“Liberation Mining, together with its partners, has a long-term commitment to Zimbabwe’s economy and social development, welcomes current changes in the country’s business environment and is looking forward to further investing in its growth and the prosperity of the people of Zimbabwe,” Liberation Mining said in a statement:

Speaking to journalists in Harare on Wednesday, Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando said: “The event will be officially opened by His Excellency, President E.D Mnangagwa and has attracted interest from over 20 countries and we are excited to have engagements with the Zimbabwean mining industry and international investors.”

Government officials will address the ease of doing mining business, showcase investment opportunities and discuss mineral value addition, among other issues.

Zimbabwe is endeavouring to be among the most attractive and safest mining investment destinations with clear and predictable investment policies and incentives.

In his December 2017 budget statement, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the 51-49 per cent local-foreign shareholding structure shall only apply to diamonds and platinum, allowing foreign investors to now own up to 100 per cent in all other mineral projects.

In a statement, conference hosts MiningReport said: “We are bringing together mining companies, government stakeholders and a broad range of investors including sovereign wealth funds, and the media. Make sure you join us to connect with these key stakeholders. Zimbabwe is on a path to becoming one of the leading mining investment destinations in Africa.”

Zimbabwe’s 800 mines have capacity to earn $18 billion per annum but were only turning out about $2 billion annually since 2009. This represents about a tenth of the sector’s full potential and translates to an incredible opportunity for investors, and the government has pledged to create an enabling environment for investors.

The country’s vast mineral wealth includes the second largest platinum and chrome deposits in the world, and the country is the fifth largest producer of lithium in the world.

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