China's Platinum Offer Raises Tension in Zimbabwe


"China Eximbank offers $US3 Billion for nation's major platinum reserves."

China has come up with a controversial US$3 billion offer for vast local platinum reserves in a move which has stirred a fresh political storm in government circles.

The deal with China, through the Export-Import bank of China (China Eximbank), gives Zimbabwe US$3 billion to resuscitate its economy wrecked by extended years of bad policies and mismanagement. The US$3 billion offer is described in official documents, seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, as a "master-loan-facility".

In return, China gets platinum deposits in the Selous and Northfields concession covering 110 square kilometers. The concession has 30 million ounces of platinum, meaning it is worth between US$30-US$40 billion. China has been pursuing the coveted reserves since 2006.

Sources said the new deal has been received with scepticism in government circles because it has stringent conditions. The three most critical conditions in the current financial package include mortgaging platinum reserves and ceding Chiadzwa diamond revenues and tollgate fees.

Sources said China wants most of the US$3 billion invested in agriculture, fertiliser manufacturing and drugs. China Eximbank's main focus is on international loans and export credit, and is the only Chinese bank authorised to distribute concessional loans. The bank has issued loans to a wide range of African countries.

China and Africa have become increasingly linked economically, particularly over the last decade. As a whole, Africa has become China's fifth largest trade partneróbehind only the United States, Japan, South Korea and Germany.

However, China is now zeroing in on Zimbabwe's huge mineral reserves. Zimbabwe has vast mineral deposits, including platinum. South Africa is currently the leading world platinum producer, followed by Russia.

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