London: Resource companies are lining up to rebuild Zimbabwe’s gold mines and metal refineries if President Robert Mugabe’s government falls.
The country, once a big producer of minerals, is hardly undiscovered ground for the world’s miners. Rio Tinto Ltd digs for diamonds there, while the country’s platinum reserves too have attracted firms.
By far the main event in mining is gold, and with gold prices close to an all-time high, miners are keen to start digging again.
“At its peak, Zimbabwe produced about 25 tonnes a year of gold. Output is currently below 7 tonnes but it could easily treble that,” said Magnus Ericsson at mining researchers Raw Materials Group. “Potential investors would want to see a good mining law, with security of tenure and a right to export metal,” said George Rogers of Investec. “Under Mugabe, firms have operated under the threat of nationalization,” he added.
There are sub-Saharan success stories to hearten investors. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), once viewed as dangerous, recast its mining code with World Bank’s help, and is now on the radar for mining majors. “If countries like the DRC can attract investors, so can Zimbabwe,” said Investec’s Rogers.
Karen Norton contributed to this story.