ZANUPF Factions: Battle to control Zimbabwean platinum gets uglier

Zimbabwe, a country with 100000 per cent inflation, is all set to produce a million ounces of platinum a year in the next ten to 15 years.

Zimbabwe hosts the second-largest known platinum reserves in the world after Russia. Besides the two operating platinum mines, there was one project in an advanced stage of mine development and five projects under exploration.

Zimbabwe’s platinum operations were relatively shallow with mining costs that were still relatively low.

Both companies are alleged to be linked to both Zanu PF’s rival factions and they are backed by their respective national authorities.

The interests in Zimbabwean platinum and other mineral resources has compromised South Africa’s role as a mediator to Zimbabwean crisis and it has set them on a head-on collusion with European powers, and the Chinese, United States and the Russians are also waiting on the wings.

But, who’s telling the truth in the battle for Bokai by Camec vs Kameni? The story below shows the double dealing and political gamesmanship by Zanu PF politicians who have positioned relatives and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation masquerading as business executives, all but saving their masters.

Camec, Central African Mining & Exploration Company Plc, announced on April 11 2008 that it had acquired 60% of Todal, which owns the Bokai and Kironde concessions near Gweru, Zimbabwe.

A bankable feasibility study at the Bokai platinum prospect, in Zimbabwe, would be completed by September, Camec said in July 2009, they claimed.

The construction of the mine was expected to start this year, Africa-focused emerging mining company Central African Mining & Exploration Company (Camec), as Camec claimed in a statement.

They said it followed on an initial feasibility study, which revealed an indicated and inferred mineral resource containing 10,69-million ounces of 4E (platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold).

"These results confirm a significant resource at Bokai and demonstrate the considerable potential for economic recovery of this platinum resource.

We expect to bring Bokai into production by 2012, with construction on the mine likely to begin this year," commented Camec CEO Andrew Groves.

The London-listed miner expected the stage one reserves to support the production of 163 000 oz/y of platinum-group metals (PGMs) in concentrate form over a 20-year life-of-mine.

The stage two development would likely double the PGMs production, it added in a statement.

The company noted that it had already completed the underground mining layouts, equipment section, production schedules and the PGMs concentrator and supporting mine infrastructure designs.

The prospect is owned by Todal Mining, which is 60% owned by London-listed Camec and 40% by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

For its 60% in Todal, Camec paid $5m in cash, and issued 215m of its shares, worth about £100m at the time. Camec also loaned $100m to Todal’s parent company in order to facilitate the start up of building a mine at the concessions.

However, in a bizarre set up prescribed by the Zanu PF underworld, and in these efforts, Camec learned later in 2008 that ownership of the Bokai concession was being hawked around by Kameni, in an effort, apparently successful, to raise hundreds of millions of rands (among other currencies) from investors.

As 2008 wore on, Kameni started to widely advertise that it controlled Bokai. In marketing materials, Kameni claims that its subsidiary Mid-Ma Platinum (74.9% held by Pomachan, a 100% subsidiary of Kameni) holds Bokai.

In December, with the global platinum sector in absolute crisis, Kameni announced plans to raise R6.5bn (about $630m) on the Johannesburg bourse, by mid-2010, "the funds being intended to build platinum and chrome mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe".

On March 5 2009, Kameni further announced that "it had raised R300m- its minimum capital raising requirement -to fund its exploration programme in South Africa and Zimbabwe". Kameni advised further that its "two major assets – the near-surface PGM [platinum group metal] Kalkfontein Project in South Africa and the surface PGM and chrome Bougai Project in Zimbabwe – lend themselves to rapid exploration, development and cash-generating mining".

For days and weeks and months, Kameni’s executives and/or directors have persistently declined requests for any interview to explain Kameni’s claims to Bokai, but have instead supplied limited and incomplete answers via "strategic communication" entity Russell and Associates in Johannesburg.

On July 16 2009, a James Duncan of Russell and Associates stated: "At the time the seed capital raising took place, there was no dispute regarding rights to the Bokai claims".

It was on February 19, while the seed raisings were taking place, that Walter Shamu, MD of Todal, wrote Stephen Gorven, CEO of Kameni. Walter Shamu is Minister of Information, Webster Shamu’s brother and he is a former member of the Central Intelligence Organisation – CIO.

Shamu pointed out in no uncertain terms that Kameni’s "marketing materials" referring to Kameni’s "Bougai" project apparently pointed to an "overlap with existing Todal claims". Shamu urgently requested a meeting to resolve the issues.

With a full blown dispute in the background, Kameni’s seed raising continued. The battle had been brewing for months. More than two months previously, on December 5 2008, Shamu wrote the mining commissioner, Gweru, expressing alarm that Kameni’s Mid-Ma was apparently claiming rights "over mining claims already granted to Todal".

Duncan states that "Kameni had – and still has – documentary proof of its rights to the claims from the appropriate authority including original certificates of registration and letters of confirmation of their validity from the Zimbabwean Mines Department", but has not supplied copies of such materials, or anything else.

With Duncan clearly suggesting that Bokai has been sold twice, he also states that: "as we have said to you at least twice now, the matter has been referred back to the appropriate authority, the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines, for clarification and Kameni is confident of an outcome in its favour".

Again, Kameni has not supplied proof of such a process. Nothing that Duncan states checks out. Information available – of which there is no real shortage – indicates that Kameni’s "claims" in Zimbabwe – Bougai is not the only one – have been annulled and repudiated by the relevant authorities.

Dominique Mabayiwa, CEO of the Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation (ZMDC), which owns the balance of 40% in Todal, mentions the word "motive" when asked about Kameni’s conduct. He also speaks for the Zimbabwe government, given the ZMDC’s status as a parastatal.

Duncan states that "from the outset, Kameni has and continues to act in terms of the best legal advice in both South Africa and Zimbabwe", but, again, provides no details, evidence or anything else that would throw light onto Kameni’s bizarre and twisted trail. For now, investors who ploughed hundreds of millions of rands into Kameni will simply have to sit on the edge of their seats.

Meanwhile a British TV programme by Channel 4 television Dispatches highlighted how Robert Mugabe and politicians in his ZANU-PF party are still clinging onto power in Zimbabwe, focusing on the businessmen who are benefiting from or supporting his campaign of political violence.

According to opposition politicians in Zimbabwe, those businessmen include well-known figures like Billy Rautenbach and companies based in the City of London.

The Finance Minister Tendai Biti who was interviewed by Channel 4 television and he is on record saying he was going to overhaul the country mineral laws and later received a live bullet in the post as a direct threat to silence him and his top aide, Nqobizitha Mlilo’s mother was beaten and left for dead by assailants beleived to be Defence Minister’s Emmerson Mnangagwa’s thugs.

Following last year’s disputed elections and political violence, a power-sharing ‘National Unity Government’ was established in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe remains as President, with the backing of Southern African leaders.

Working undercover in Zimbabwe, Dispatches reporter Aidan Hartley discovered that Mugabe has maintained his grip on the police, army and central bank, enabling him and his allies to continue carrying out violence and corruption on a vast scale.

Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and long time business partner Billy Rautenbach are alleged to be very much involved in the country’s latest biggest platinum mine construction by a British based mining company Central African Mining & Exploration Co (Camec’s), and evidence show above, mineral rights are being sold twice as a result of Zanu PF factions fighting to control the country’s resources.

Well placed sources said Zanu PF dark forces influenced the withdrawal of the mining bill to under the influence of their secretive International business partners who are battling to control the Bokai Platinum mine project.

The Zimbabwean businessman, and longtime Zanu PF financier Billy Rautenbach is subject to an arrest warrant in South Africa; is persona non grata in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and is on EU and US blacklists for his alleged links with Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe.

It is believed that the country’s second strongest man after Robert Mugabe, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long time business partner of the Rautenbach family has a major political role in the latest project.

Billy Rautenbach was introduced to Emmerson Mnangagwa by Ken Flower, the then founder of Rhodesian Central Intelligency Organisation, the notorious State spy agent, CIO 30 years ago. Soon after Independence, Mnangagwa was the first to establish contact with Ian Smith’s security machinery.

Ken Flower went on to work for Robert Mugabe after independence after as Director-General of the spy agency and Emmerson Mnangagwa was his boss as the country’s first Minister of State Security.

In July 2007 controversial businessman Billy Rautenbach was arrested in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and subsequently deported to Zimbabwe.

Rautenbach, used to be a major shareholder in Aim-listed Central African Mining and Exploration (Camec), which owns copper mining properties in the DRC, was apprehended after the company had held a press briefing contesting the validity of the persona non grata order and claiming that he had entered the DRC despite it.

After authorities discovered that Rautenbach had entered the country, he was detained by the Katanga provincial authorities and deported the following day.

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s name was even mentioned by a United Nations report on DRC blood diamonds during the Great Lakes wars. He is also in firm control of the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, a Company which trades in military weapons, and exporting them to Africa and other Asian black spots.

Rautenbach, exchanged his assets in the DRC for a minority stake in Camec and cash, "is still the key guy in Camec’s Congo operations", one well-placed source in the cobalt market said at the time.

Ultimately he is in charge of marketing cobalt concentrates from its Mukondo Mountain mine, according to a trading source. Camec had been selling material to Glencore and Camec’s Chinese offtake partner Zhejiang Galico Cobalt & Nickel Material Co (Galico) until the first quarter of last year, but all its marketing is now…

The construction of a mine is expected to start this year, Africa-focused emerging mining company Central African Mining & Exploration Company (Camec) said on Thursday.

"Mr Rautenbach had amassed a large number of mineral and other assets in the DRC during the civil war and subsequently," sources said.

Camec, which is chaired by former England cricket player Philippe Edmonds, was once engaged in a hostile bid for fellow DRC-focused copper firm Katanga Mining.

In another development, an US$800-million coal mine deal, which has been on the cards for years, is set to take off, following the signing of a deal between the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) and front-man Billy Rautenbach and Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Clidder Minerals.

It involves the construction of a coal mine in the Hwange western coalfield, owned by Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a power-generating subsidiary of Zesa, and two power units at Hwange power station.

Zesa, through ZPC, will hold a "yet to be disclosed but minority shareholding" in the venture. Clidder, an investment vehicle will be the majority equity holder.

"Billy [Rautenbach] will have the majority stake in the joint venture and government, through Zesa, will be the minority shareholder," says a source.

Currently, Clidder Minerals mines coal at Hwange colliery under a contract.

Zesa CEO Ben Rafemoyo has declined to comment on the latest developments. (Additional Reporting by MineWeb)