ZIMBABWE, which this week signed several mining deals with Russian companies, is currently negotiating joint venture partnerships in tourism, energy, education, railway sector, agriculture and automotive assembly, among other sectors.
According to Rostec, which is among the Russian companies involved in a US$4,8 billion platinum deal with Zimbabwe’s Pen East Mining Company whose shareholding includes the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, key bilateral agreements were signedwhile more are being negotiated. Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent in 2012 revealed that Pen East, whose chairperson is Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss retired colonel Tshinga Dube, has military links.
Besides the platinum deal, which will focus on the integrated development of platinum deposits in Darwendale by a Russian consortium, consisting of Rostech Vnesheconombank and Vi Holding, another joint venture formed with a Zimbabwean company, is assessing the prospects of new diamond deposits in the country.
The joint venture between the Development Trust of Zimbabwe and Russian company OZGEO (DTZ-OZGEO), which together with Alrosa, a Russian group of diamond mining companies, is also arranging a system for sorting, evaluating and selling rough diamonds.
The visit by the Russian delegation to Zimbabwe, led by Russian Foreign Affairs minister Sergey Lavrov and Industry and Trade minister Denis Manturov, resulted in the signing of a series of key bilateral agreements.
During his visit, Manturov told an inter-governmental commission meeting between the two countries on economic, trade, scientific and technological co-operation that the investment protection agreement they signed allowed Russian companies to invest in Zimbabwe without risk.
“Priorities for Russia include comprehensive infrastructural and resource projects that are in various stages of implementation. I am convinced that the beginning of work on existing projects will signal the launch of new strategic directions of co-operation in various fields of industry. There is strong potential for co-operation between our two countries,” Manturov said.
“Already joint projects are under discussion in which Kamaz (a Russian truck manufacturing company), Russian Railways, Alrosa, Uralvagonzavod (manufacturers of armoured and railway cars), Tekhnopromexport (a Russian engineering company that builds energy facilities), United Engine Corporation (manufactures engines for military and civil aviation), Inter Rao (operations comprise electric power and heat generation, retail electricity sales, international power trading and power industry engineering), as well as other leading Russian industrial companies may participate.”
The two countries also agreed that priority areas of joint development should include the development of the mineral resource base of Zimbabwe, reconstruction of existing and creation of new energy infrastructure, transportation, storage and processing of energy resources, building infrastructure, automotive assembly, agricultural equipment production, development of agribusiness, education and tourism.
They agreed to establish five working groups in the relevant areas in order to develop partnerships.
The Russian delegation in the commission included representatives of public authorities, public corporations, private companies and research institutions.
Some of the agreements signed included an inter-governmental agreement on co-operation to implement the project to develop the Darwendale deposit.
Another agreement signed was on the financing of the Darwendale project concluded between Vnesheconombank, the joint Russian-Zimbabwean venture Great Dyke Investments (Private) Limited and Afromet.
An agreement on co-operation for training and skills development for the project between the joint Russian-Zimbabwean venture Great Dyke Investments and the National University of Science and Technology and a co-operation agreement between Uralmash-Izhora Group and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to supply Russian drilling rigs, crushing, milling and processing equipment were also signed.
According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, in 2013, Russo-Zimbabwean turnover decreased by 36% compared to the same period in 2012 and amounted to US$24,5 million.
The volume of Russian exports increased by 18% and amounted to US$4,6 million, whereas Russian imports decreased by 42% (to US$19,9 million).
From January to July 2014, the volume of Russo-Zimbabwean turnover compared to the same period in 2013 already showed a positive trend, increasing by 52,1% to US$22,2 million.
The main share of Russian exports to Zimbabwe went to chemical products (58,8%), machinery, equipment and vehicles (22,4%), as well as food and agricultural goods (18,8%).
Currently, Zimbabwe is focusing on importing fertilisers, building materials, spare parts and equipment from Russia, while it exports mainly tobacco, fruits and souvenirs to Russia.
In the future, imports of Russian agricultural products may increase, since Zimbabwe is interested in purchasing wheat, flour and vegetable oil, Rostech said.