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HomeBusinessZimbabwean consider repossessing Nigerian billionaire’s mining concessions amid financial struggles

Zimbabwean consider repossessing Nigerian billionaire’s mining concessions amid financial struggles

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Bennedict Peters, a prominent Nigerian oil and gas billionaire, once heralded as a major investor in Zimbabwe’s mining sector, faces the potential loss of his lucrative mineral concessions due to stalled projects and financial difficulties.

Peters, who amassed concessions for platinum, gold, lithium, iron ore, tin, and rare earth minerals with the support of Zimbabwean authorities, initially appeared set to become the first black investor to own significant mining assets in the country. However, his ambitious plans, including a flagship platinum mining project in Ngezi and a highly sought-after lithium dump in Kamativi, have encountered significant hurdles.

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Despite his initial reputation and promises to invest over US$1 billion in Zimbabwe, Peters’ projects have not progressed as expected. The Kamativi lithium dump, a joint venture with the government, is now at risk of being taken over by the authorities if tangible progress is not made soon.

“Authorities are looking into the status of Peters’ projects in Ngezi, Kamativi, and other locations,” a senior Ministry of Mines official said. “There is concern about the slow pace and stalling of these projects. The situation is under scrutiny.”

Reports indicate that civil works had started at the Kamativi project, including exploration, surveys, and sampling. However, progress has been slow, leading to government dissatisfaction.

Sources reveal that Peters’ financial troubles in Ghana, where his company Aiteo Eastern E&P Company Limited is embroiled in a debt crisis, are affecting his Zimbabwean investments. The Nigerian energy company owes approximately US$2.6 billion in oil-related loans, complicating Peters’ ability to fund his mining projects in Zimbabwe.

Peters’ Bravura has a 60% stake in the Kamativi lithium project, but the lack of substantial progress has led officials to consider alternative strategies, including inviting other investors, with Chinese partners being preferred.

Government officials have expressed disappointment over the lack of progress, noting that Peters’ promises to invest over US$1 billion into various minerals, including the Kamativi lithium dump, have not been fulfilled. Despite claims of ongoing processes, such as mineralogical and metallurgical testing, visible development remains minimal.

In contrast to Peters’ stalled projects, other mining investments in the region, such as Tharisa Plc’s Karo Mining Holdings, are making significant strides. The Karo platinum project, located on Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke belt, is seen as a world-class asset, contributing positively to the local economy and infrastructure.

Peters’ inability to advance his projects has led to comparisons with the successful Karo project, further highlighting the issues with his investments. Despite initial enthusiasm and support from President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who launched Peters’ US$1 billion platinum deal, the projects have not met expectations.

The Zimbabwean government is now considering repossessing Peters’ concessions and reallocating them to more capable investors. Officials argue that the valuable Kamativi lithium dump, worth billions of dollars, should be managed by investors who can deliver on their promises.

Amid these challenges, Peters and his representatives maintain that progress is being made. However, the slow pace and financial instability cast doubt on the future of his Zimbabwean mining ventures.

The potential repossession of Peters’ concessions underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring that mining projects contribute meaningfully to Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 strategy and the broader economic development goals. As the situation unfolds, the focus will be on securing reliable and financially stable partners to harness the country’s rich mineral resources. – The Zimbabwe Mail

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