RIVER Ranch diamond mining remains shut, amid reports the company has offered its shareholding to the government through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) to shore up its balance sheet.Report by Acting Business Editor
In July, Limpopo Resources — formerly River Ranch and linked to the late Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru — filed an order to wind up operations citing high operational costs.
Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu told a media briefing in the capital that the government was still interested in the project, but required due diligence to be completed first.
“River Ranch is not operating at the moment and the shareholders of River Ranch offered it to the government through ZMDC,” Mpofu said.
“I am sure you are aware of the negotiations between ZMDC and River Ranch. But there are quite a number of issues that need to be handled regarding that project, which I think the government will be dealing with as soon as indications are made on the way forward. We want the project to operate. We, however, want to understand the shareholding behind it before finalising the negotiations.”
Early this year, Limpopo Mineral Resources said the diamond firm had applied for liquidation as it could no longer sustain itself as a going concern. The company owns 80% of the Beitbridge-based mine in which Mujuru’s family holds a 20% stake through Khupukile Resources.
At the time of closure, Rani Investments chief executive officer Salim Bitar said the majority shareholder had been subsidising the running of the mine.
Rani Investment is a Dubai-based investment firm under Aujan Group with more than $300 million of committed investments in the Middle East and Africa.
It is owned by Adele Aujun, a Saudi billionaire.
Turning to value addition, Mpofu said the ministry had licencesed several companies.
“We have approved a number of companies to do cutting and polishing, but we had to suspend licences at some point due to abuse that we witnessed,” Mpofu said.
“They used licences to access diamonds that they did take for cutting and polishing. We have increased monitoring of these operators”.