SHAREHOLDERS of diversified minerals miner Vast Resources are frustrated over the delay in the finalisation of the company’s Chiadzwa diamond deal, with some thinking it would be better for the mining firm to pull out of the country altogether and concentrate its efforts elsewhere.
The London Stock Exchange-listed mining company, which has operations in Zimbabwe and Romania, announced in September 2019 that it had signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with Chiadzwa Mineral Resources, a company designated to represent the Chiadzwa community interests in the concession.
This resulted in the formation of Katanga Mining (Pvt) Ltd. A further JV agreement between Katanga and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), a government entity, is set to be officially signed.
However, since a JV was signed in September 2019, nothing concrete has been achieved, prompting shareholders to question the deal.
“What is happening with the Zimbabwe diamond deal? It was anticipated that the deal would be signed in October 2019 and then by the end of March 2020. Nothing has happened for nearly three years. Deals have been signed with Alrosa and Anjin but not Vast. Media reports suggest that the deal with Vast has now been shelved. Would it not be better for Vast to pull out of Zimbabwe altogether and concentrate its efforts elsewhere?” This is one of the questions submitted by shareholders to the company via the investor meet company platform held on 6 June 2022, read.
“Marange has been ongoing for several years and there has been no tangible progress in the public domain. When does this conclude for better or worse? What is actually happening regarding the Marange community project and the vault of diamonds? What is the situation with Zimbabwe?
“What happened to the fencing and security on the original Marange diamond plot, which I believe we raised about US$1m for?”
Responding to the questions, Vast chief executive officer Andrew Prelea said the company was hopeful of a conclusion, but was not in control of timing or the outcome.
“We are continuing in Zimbabwe, we still believe in the project. There is still opportunity for the project to go forward in Zimbabwe. Nothing has changed. We are still in constant dialogue with authorities. We are not in a position to pull out, we still strongly believe in Zimbabwe and the opportunities there,” he said.
Although the continued delays are unquestionably frustrating, the Vast chief executive remained hopeful of a positive outcome and believed their continued tenacity will ultimately reward shareholders.
This is not the first time the shareholders have raised concerns over the delays in the finalisation of the company’s diamond project in Zimbabwe.
Last year, they said the lethargic pace in rolling out the venture was detrimental to the business.
While Vast is still struggling to conclude mining deals in Zimbabwe, other companies like Alrosa from Russia and Anjin from China, have begun doing business in the country.
The Russian diamond company, which holds a 70% stake in Alrosa Zim, with the remaining 30% interest being held by the ZCDC, signed a deal to explore and mine diamonds in the country in 2019.
Anjin Diamond, a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (Afecc) and Matt Bronze, an investment vehicle controlled by Zimbabwe’s military, is conducting mining operations in Chiadzwa.