Zimbabwe-Russia platinum JV project close to $500mn funding
GDI, whose owners JCS Afromet (a subsidiary of Vi Holding, Moscow) and Landela Mining Venture (Harare) each own a 50% share, now plan to start mining platinum ore in 2021, with the necessary financing likely to be secured before the end of this year.
Once operational, the platinum project is expected to become the largest mining venture in Zimbabwe. It is estimated that it will produce 860,000 oz of platinum group metals and gold per year.
Alex Ivanov, the chief executive of Great Dyke Investments, commented to Reuters: "While some delays in funding arrangements caused by the Covid-19 (and) associated disruptions have indeed been encountered since the beginning of 2020, financial closure is now expected by the end of the year”.
When asked about the source of the funding, Ivanov said that it would come from five institutions in Russia and Zimbabwe that were participating in a syndicated funding, led by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank). Ivanov did not reveal their names.
Ivanov did say that the funding would take the form of debt and equity, and that GDI had passed technical, commercial and financial due diligence arranged by the lenders. The venture has already spent around $100mn on geological exploration and construction of two mine portals and surface infrastructure.
Afreximbank originally intended to raise the funding before the end of March, but this was not possible, due to the effects of both the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and Zimbabwe’s current economic crisis.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.