by business reporter

Construction work on the US$500 million Darwendale platinum project will start in the second quarter of 2020, first deputy chief executive officer of Vi Holdings, Alexander Ivanov, said on Thursday on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa forum.

“This project is progressing to a development phase that can be called final from the standpoint of project preparation for implementation. A range of financial documents has been signed to date, including on the sidelines of the forum, which definitely provided a strong impetus to project development,” Ivanov told Russian news agency TASS.

“Investments are over $500 million in total,” he said.

The project provides for phased development of a concentration and metallurgic plant with mining of up to 10,5 million tonnes of ore and production of 870 000 ounces of platinum group metals annually.

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Vi Holdings holds the Russian interests in Great Dyke Investments (GDI), the joint venture company developing the project. Earlier, GDI said it expected to reach financial close by March 31, 2020. The African Export-Import Bank was last year appointed as the main financial partner and lead arranger for the project.

“According to the agreement,Afreximbank’s mandate covers both debt (project) financing and equity raising portion in the amount sufficient for the successful implementation of phase one of the project. The target financial close date for the transaction is March 31, 2020,” GDI says.

GDI has also appointed former Impala Platinum chief executive David Brown as its board chair.

Also on Thursday, Zimbabwe was one of several African countries to sign a deal with Russia to create a platform for funding trade deals between the countries.

The deal was inked in a four-way format bringing together the Russian Export Centre, Sberbank, VEB.RF and Gemcorp Capital LLP.

The agreement is aimed at giving Russian exporters access to the African market. “The deal is designed to develop cooperation with African states by arranging mechanisms of issuing loans for joint foreign trade projects and it opens up opportunities for increasing the volume of Russian exports through financial support of Russian goods supplies to the African continent, including to Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and other African states,” the Russian Export Centre
— newZWire