RUSSIAN investors have expressed an interest in investing in Zimbabwe’s mining sector with major emphasis on platinum extraction, a visiting Russian business delegation said on Monday.
Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said the visit was the first step towards unlocking the full potential that Zimbabwe has and will be critical towards increasing trade between the two countries.
The delegation held meetings with officials from Zimbabwe's Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to understand procedures to be followed towards setting up a mining venture.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu said the delegation showed its commitment to increasing trade relations between the two countries, adding the government will assist to protect the interests of existing firms in Zimbabwe.
“They enquired about platinum mining in Darwendale, they would want to invest in that sector," Mpofu said.
“They also have an interest in the energy sector where they would like to set up power stations. So we discussed about those opportunities and some of the challenges involved and how to resolve them.”
“We already have a number of Russian companies operating in the country concentrating mostly in the mining sector. We have a lot of areas where we feel we can partner the Zimbabwe government by investing in such as platinum mining,” said Manturov.
On the arrival of the delegation on Saturday, Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs Mumbengegwi said the visit was timely in that it came at a time that Zimbabwe is working to revive the economy after over a decade of stress.
"Our country has suffered for more than a decade under economic sanctions on account of our land reform. It is extremely important to enter into relations that will help us accelerate the path in our economic recovery," he said.
Mumbengegwi said it is time for the two nations to transform political relations into mutual economic benefit.
"We have enjoyed this political relationship but on the economy we had not moved fast," he said.
"We will rejuvenate the Joint Commission to send a message that the two countries are now ready to do business. We are looking forward to a very mutually beneficial economic relationship between our two countries," he said.
According to state radio, economic cooperation between Zimbabwe and the Russian Federation is set to intensify through further enhancement of conditions for investment and trade.
A Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) between the two countries was signed on Sunday evening by the visiting Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Leonid Osipov and Zimbabwe's Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Tapiwa Mashakada.
It is expected to further stimulate investment and trade between the two countries and to enhance confidence in the two countries' economies as safe and viable investment destinations.
Russia is currently into gold and diamonds mining in Penhalonga and Chimanimani and its trade with Zimbabwe has been rising steadily over the last few years.
Trade between Russia and Zimbabwe increased from $1.5 million in 2009 to $5.5 million last year.