U.S. threatens Zimbabwe with further sanctions over $3B platinum mine

The United States is wagging its finger at Zimbabwe, threatening to ratchet up sanctions over a plan to develop a platinum mine involving Russian and Zimbabwean companies.

According to NewZimbabwe.com, Washington has said it will accelerate sanctions imposed against Harare in 2003, due to the Robert Mugabe-led government's closer ties with Russia over the US$3 billion Darwendale platinum project. The website bases its claim on Zimbabwe Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, who it says is President Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba. The claim has not been verified by the U.S. Embassy in Harare.

The platinum mine is being developed by a company called Great Dyke Investments, which is 50/50 owned by PenEast and Afromet.

"At full development in 2024, the mine will produce 800,000 platinum ounces, pushing Zimbabwe's output over one million ounces, and create 8,000 jobs," the online newspaper notes.

Since Russia annexed Crimea in March, Washington and the EU have sought to isolate and punish the Kremlin, by tightening restrictions on major Russian state banks and corporations. Senior Russian officials, separatist commanders and Russian firms accused of undermining Ukrainian sovereignty, have also been blacklisted.

The United States imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2003 after accusing Mugabe of human rights abuses and electoral fraud. The country has the world's second largest platinum reserves after South Africa.

Correction: Ownership of Great Dyke has been amended.