12 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Vast Resources Explores New Opportunities

Africa Moyo — Vast Resources Zimbabwe is exploring new mining opportunities and intends to revitalise its historic claims, as it seeks to increase its footprint in the country, riding on the significantly transformed investment and political climate.

Already, the AIM-listed mining concern holds a 95 percent stake in Eureka Gold Mine, which it acquired in April this year.

It also has a 25 percent stake in Chegutu-based Pickstone-Peerless Gold Mines.

Vast Resources also owns mining claims surrounding the former Giant Gold Mine.

The dramatic transformation of the investment environment instituted by the new administration led by President Mnangagwa, particularly the tweaking of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to allow foreign investors to hold up to 100 percent shareholding in mining ventures apart from diamonds and platinum, has seen more investors inquiring on opportunities.

As investors jostle for local opportunities, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) said it approved investment opportunities worth $16 billion between January and June this year, the highest figure since 1980.

Vast Resources is now eager to "ride the elephant before it fully takes-off".

The firm's chief executive officer Mr Andrew Prelea last week said, "The political amelioration in Zimbabwe over recent months has made us re-evaluate our activities in the country and we are now actively seeking new opportunities and exploring options through which to revive historic claims in order to build a significant presence in the region."

The mining firm has since roped in one of the country's top mining brains, Engineer Mark Mabhudhu, into Vast Resources' wholly owned subsidiary, Vast Resources Zimbabwe (Private) Limited's board as it seeks to spread its tentacles.

Eng Mabhudhu was appointed early this month, and Mr Prelea believes the inaugural Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) chief executive officer has what it takes to transform Vast Resources' local operations.

"I am confident that Mark's experience, network and influence will expedite this evaluation process as we look to expand our current mineralised footprint, comprising the Pickstone-Peerless, Giant and Eureka Gold Mines, to establish a significant presence in the Zimbabwean mining industry in the near term," said Mr Prelea.

Eng Mabhudhu is also a former Marange Resources CEO.

He holds a BSc (Honours) degree in metallurgical engineering, an MBA, an MPhil in Information and Knowledge Management, and is currently working on his Doctoral studies.

Eng Mabhudhu has 25 years working in the diamond and platinum sectors, both in Zimbabwe and internationally, including 11 years with Debswana.

Debswana is a joint venture company between De Beers and the Botswana government.

During his time as Marange Resources CEO, Eng Mabhudhu is credited for implementing a turnaround strategy that resulted in the diamond miner achieving profitability after several years of financial distress.

A few months after becoming ZCDC chief executive in 2016, Eng Mabhudhu was fired by former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Professor Francis Gudyanga.

At that time, Prof Gudyanga would just call top ZCDC officials to his office and tell them they are fired, before demanding that they leave vehicles at his office.

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