Russia’s Vi Holding has pulled out from Zimbabwean platinum company Great Dyke Investments, marking a new challenge for Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum project, reported Bloomberg News.

A 50-50 joint venture (JV) between Vi Holding and Zimbabwe’s Kuvimba Mining House, Great Dyke Investments is developing the $3bn Darwendale platinum project.

Located on the mineral-rich Great Dyke of Zimbabwe, the long-delayed project was expected to have a peak production capacity of 860,000oz of platinum group metals (PGM) a year.

The publication cited an email from Great Dyke as saying that the Russian company exited from the JV. However, the reason for the shareholding change remains undisclosed.

Igor Higer, who had acted as Vi representative and Great Dyke chairman, said his company withdrew the arrangement.

Although initial development work on the project started in early 2020, the project’s operations were soon ceased due to low capital.

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The site has remained abandoned since early 2021, according to a report by Zimbabwe’s Centre for Natural Resource Governance.

Meanwhile, Kuvimba Mining House also failed to attract fresh investment for the mining project as European buyers are considering moving away from projects involving Russian shareholders, reported Bloomberg News citing the people with knowledge of the matter.

Kuvimba CEO Simba Chinyemba said that the project is ‘ongoing’ and the plan is being remodelled for the platinum mine.

According to Great Dyke, the project has the potential to be exploited for four decades and was initially planned to start production in 2021.

The Darwendale mining project includes the development of underground mining activities to extract PGM, as well as processing facilities.