Zimbabwean M&R seeks growth from mining contracts

Zimbabwe has huge mineral deposits, including the second largest platinum reserves after South Africa. The world’s two largest producers Anglo Platinum and Implats both operate there.

Gold mines are restarting production after shutting down last year while Implats will launch its $340 million mine expansion this year and Angloplat is forging ahead with a planned 150,000-ounce a year platinum projects.

"We have taken a position that this (mining) is a key growth market area for us," Canada Maunga, M&R Zimbabwe chief executive told an investor conference in Harare.

"China is definitely here, they are very competitive and we believe the South Africans are coming in strongly as well."

M&R Zimbabwe, in which M&R has a 48 percent shareholding, is the country’s largest construction group, focusing on civil engineering, steelworks and manufacturing industrial pipes.

The company said it would spend $15 million on capital expenditure in the next three years and recently completed a platinum concentrator at Implats’ Ngezi mine in Zimbabwe and built the new British embassy in Harare.

Zimbabwe needs $10 billion in foreign funding to revive its damaged economy, with $2 billion required to revamp decaying infrastructure.  

But it should introduce reforms to its tax system, reduce corruption and remove the red tape to attract investors.

"The investment opportunities are fantastic and growth potential phenomenal," Steve Hanke, from the John Hopkins University in United States, who wrote a book on Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation last year, told the conference via video link. "The good news is that these reforms can be done quickly."

He said another major concern among investors was whether Zimbabwe could quickly restore the rule of law after an often violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms in 2000 and a nationalisation law targeting foreign firms enacted last year.