Anglo Platinum’s
Unki mine in
Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 20 December 2010 – Mining companies are very much to the fore in the latest threat by President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to act against companies from Western countries that have imposed sanctions on his party over suspected election fraud and rights abuses.

The 86-year-old leader has repeated threats to nationalise foreign firms, threatening to retaliate against companies such as Rio Tinto and Anglo American which operate in Zimbabwe.

“We ask them, think again, think now. Is it sanctions or no sanctions? We will be very, very strict to the extent of refusing investment from those countries that have imposed sanctions,” Mugabe told ZANU-PF supporters at the end of the party’s annual conference. “Companies have to get their mother countries to remove sanctions, or there will be sanctions against them.”

Anglo American and Rio Tinto, together with financial services firms Barclays plc and Standard Chartered ,and food group Nestle, are some of the largest foreign-owned companies with investments in Zimbabwe.

Early this year the government published rules forcing foreign-owned companies worth over US$500 000 (R3.4 million) to sell at least 5% of their shares to local blacks.

“Why should Anglo American continue to take our gold out? Why should Rio Tinto continue to take our gold out? If the sanctions remain and continue, those processes will have to stop,” Mugabe said.

Anglo American has in the past ten years sold its mines and sugar estates in Zimbabwe, but Anglo Platinum is developing a platinum mine in central Zimbabwe, while Rio Tinto also owns a diamond mine in the south-west of the country.

Analysts say the empowerment rules have created uncertainty and deterred the billions of dollars of foreign investment which is urgently required to rebuild the economy after three decades of mismanagement under Mugabe’s ZANU-PF administration.