NMDC in mining pact with Zimbabwe's Mosi Oa

The National Mineral Development Corp Ltd (NMDC) said today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Mosi Oa Tunya Development Company of Zimbabwe for the development of mineral assets in the southern African nation.

Mosi Oa, Zimbabwe's state-run miner, has invited its Indian  counterpart NMDC as a strategic partner to invest in the exploration and development of iron ore, coal, chrome and gold tenements, NMDC said in a filing with the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The MoU was signed in New Delhi on 7 June, an NMDC spokesman said at its headquarters in Hyderabad.

The agreement will provide exclusivity to NMDC for participation in upstream mineral projects in Zimbabwe as it looks to develop overseas mineral assets to secure steelmaking raw materials.

The spokesman explained that NMDC would have the first right of refusal in mineral exploration ventures in Zimbabwe executed under government-to-government contracts. Specific assets for exploration and development have yet to be determined, the spokesman said, adding that the two companies would first undertake initial studies to identify potential assets.

The MoU follows discussions in Harare between the two nations in early April on opportunities for Indian companies to develop mineral resources in Zimbabwe.

Among other Indian companies with investments in Zimbabwe is the Essar Group, where its Mauritius-based exploration arm Essar Energy won a bid to buy 60 per cent stake in troubled Zimbabwean steelworks Zisco, in November 2010. But the deal is in limbo due to unresolved issues relating to iron ore mining rights and the Zimbabwe government's demands to take back a 51 per cent shareholding in the company in accordance with a local indigenisation policy.