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China courts Zimbabwe gold and platinum
by Tawanda Karombo

A Chinese delegation visiting Zimbabwe was keen to invest in the almost-bankrupt country's gold and platinum sector according to reports.

China is courting Zimbabwe for investment and exploration opportunities in the gold and platinum mining sectors following a visit there by the Chinese deputy minister of Commerce and a 22 member delegation comprising experts in the mining, exploration and trade sectors.

The delegation, led by Deputy Minister Gao Hucheng met Zimbabwe's cabinet yesterday.

Sources who attended the meeting said the Chinese deputy minister expressed China's interest and capability to pursue exploration activities in Zimbabwe, especially in the area of gold and platinum.

"Amos Midzi, (Zimbabwe's Mines and Mining Development minister) was delighted after meeting the delegation from China as he told the mining and exploration experts from the visiting Chinese delegation that government would be delighted to forge partnerships in the mining sector," a source who attended the meeting said.

Contacted for comment, Midzi said: "The visit has been very helpful as we have agreed to what the delegation has asked for from us. They want gold and platinum mining exploration and investment opportunities and we are willing as government to partner them because they are sincere investors," he said.

President Robert Mugabe, who attended the signing, hailed the Chinese for standing by his government, which has been shunned by Britain, the United States and other Western nations, which accuse him of human rights abuses, rigging elections and ruining the economy.

"This friendship is rooted in a formidable relationship ... but we now need to embark on developing this relationship of co-operation with programmes that would enhance and continue what we have built over the years," Mugabe is reported to have said during the meeting in Harare yesterday.

The Chinese have already entered into Zimbabwe's mining sector after a Chinese mining and trading group Sinosteel Corp bought a stake in Zimasco Consolidated Enterprises Ltd, the holding company for Zimbabwe's largest ferrochrome producer.

Zimasco produces 210,000 tonnes of high carbon ferrochrome annually, accounting for about 4 percent of global ferrochrome production.

State-owned Sinosteel and Zimasco inked the deal on Sept. 19 last year.

"The deal will benefit the trade cooperation between the two countries, and help local economic development, create employment opportunities, and promote social stability in Zimbabwe," Sinosteel said at the time when the deal was struck.

China's investment invasion of Africa has been met with widespread reaction, with some doubting the sincerity of China's spending on African projects.

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