During that time, he met with the late former President Robert Mugabe, in an effort to end a dispute between the government and Implats regarding certain mineral rights.
Brown is now back in the country as a non-executive chairman of Great Dyke Investments (GDI), a company backed by private Russian interests that are hoping to raise US$550 million for platinum group metals (PGM) mine, Darwendale.
His day job, however, is with another entity, the gold development firm Kuvimba Mining House — a grandiloquent-sounding company that has the support of Zimbabwean president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa’s hope is that companies like Kuvimba can breathe life back into the country’s crisis-hit economy.
Mnangagwa hasn’t many economic levers to pull, but mining is one of them.
“I could have sat at home, but I like the opportunity of Zimbabwe,” said Brown (58).
“I like the people and I’m still young enough to do this.”
Last year he announced his resignation from MC Mining, a JSE-listed thermal and metallurgical coal company after seven years.
During this time, Brown restructured the firm ahead of capital raising, some of which was achieved.
But it’s extremely tough going for coal companies given the way attitudes have changed towards old-world fuel.
That isn’t the case for either gold or platinum, the prices of which are riding the crest of a wave.
Kuvimba has several streams of investment.
The first is gold production from mines previously owned by Metallon Corporation, a company that went bankrupt under its owner, Mzi Khumalo, a former Robben Islander.
These mines, and the second stream of investment — Bindura Nickel Corporation — were bought by the Zimbabwean government from a Russian firm, Sotic Investments.