Global Platinum Resource, a joint venture platinum mining company between Government and Chinese firm, WanBao Rexco, has suspended operations due to serious internal bickering over alleged abuse of company funds.
GPR was established in 2004 and sits on over 520 million ounces of platinum resources along the Great Dyke. It has to date spent over $80 million in exploration and feasibility studies.
The current dispute centres on allegations that the company only employed Chinese explorers to carry out pre-feasibility and feasibility studies at inflated cost.
A recent audit also unearthed irregular transactions linked to $20 million, which cannot be unaccounted for. Wanbao, which has now mothballed operations at GPR, is allegedly spending $1 million year on care and maintenance.
Government is reportedly now mulling cancelling its agreement with Wanbao and seeking a partner for a new joint venture due to the irreconcilable differences.
GPR technical manager Retired Brigadier- General Livingstone Chineka told Business Weekly that, “We are fed up with Wanbao Rexco. Since they came to Zimbabwe in 2004, they have been employing their own people and exploiting the country’s platinum resources for absolutely no return, we cannot accept that.
“They are suspending the company’s operations until 2018 because we stopped them from continuing to carry out feasibility studies after we realised that the pre-feasibility study they carried out cost $25 million against our feasibility study estimated cost $15 million, to be undertaken mainly by local personnel,” he said.
Rtd Brigadier-General Chineka said they had to repeat the feasibility on the same location, as they were not satisfied with the findings of Wenbao’s study concluded that the available resource was not economic to mine.
“For the final phases of feasibility studies we would like the Government to help us source at least $10 million to complete the processes so that we can start real operations on our own as soon as possible,” Rtd Brigadier-General Chineka said.
GPR is said to have untapped platinum claims of 86,7 kilometres, way bigger than the mineral resource held by Ngezi, Mimosa and Unki mines combined.
Rtd Brigadier-General Chineka said they believed Wanbao was now making frivolous excuses not to release more funding.
“We are convinced that the argument about the project is not based on its economic viability, but completely driven by financial challenges on the part of our partners or that they don’t want us to be part of the operations at GPR as they have realised that we can do the same or better job at reduced costs,” he said.
He further argued that the source of all their differences with the Chinese investors was the failure by Wanbao to respect and honour demands its partners, with all personnel and materials coming from China, at the expense of locals.
Rtd Brigadier-General Chineka argued that small consumables such as stationery and toiletries were being imported China yet local companies had the capacity to supply the same while several skilled locals could jobs for which expatriates were being hired.
Contacted for comment Wanbao officials did not pick their mobile phones.