MOSCOW, May 12 — Full exploration work on the Great Dyke platinum project in Darwendale in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Province will be completed early next year, a year earlier than initially projected, a senior company official says.

The project, launched last year, is a joint venture between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Russian investors VPB Bank and Rustec. According to data from the company, the whole project will cost around 4.8 billion US dollars to develop if plans of building a refinery are included.

Briefing the media after meeting President Robert Mugabe, who is here on an official visit to Russia, Great Dyke Investments general manager Igor Higer said exploration would be completed in 2016.

“We promised President Mugabe that in the beginning of next year, we will finish all the exploration in the Great Dyke and we will present to His Excellency full geological information about our licence and then together with our Zimbabwean partners we will see the best way to develop them,” he said.

“As you know, when we are talking about (the) Great Dyke it’s not platinum alone, it’s a lot of minerals including gold, palladium, chrome, etc.”

Higer said development of the project was progressing well. “The project is progressing very well with the full support of our Zimbabwean colleagues and the drilling going on together with our Zimbabwean suppliers is going on well based on the road map which was agreed between the two countries,” he added.

The Great Dyke platinum project which will be implemented in three phases, is expected to create at least 5,000 jobs and will see production of about 530,000 ounces of platinum by the second phase.

The first phase is from 2014 to 2017, and will see exploration, infrastructure establishment and the construction and commissioning of the first stage of facilities for open cast mining and processing.

The second phase, to be implemented from 2018 to 2021, will see the operation of the first underground mine, construction and commissioning of two more underground mines and construction and commissioning of a second processing plant.

The third phase is from 2022 to 2024 and this phase will see the opening of additional underground mines.