Oppenheimer family goes to court to block mineral exploration at their Zimbabwe cattle ranch

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Nicky Oppenheimer.
Nicky Oppenheimer.
Gallo Images
  • A court has stopped a miner from prospecting for gold on a ranch owned by the Oppenheimer family.
  • The Oppenheimers, through their company Shangani Holistic, turned to the courts after a South African firm Pearline Mineral Exploration started conducting an aerial geophysical survey of the property.
  • The ranch employs 400 people and keeps at least 8 000 cattle for beef exports.

The Oppenheimer family has secured a court interdict in Zimbabwe to block mineral exploration at its cattle ranch in Matabeleland South.

The 65 000-hectare Shangani Ranch holds at least 8 000 cattle and is believed to be rich in gold, silver, copper, antimony, lead, cobalt, manganese, zinc, nickel, chrome, graphite, and lithium.

Through their company, Shangani Holistic, the family turned to the courts after a South African firm Pearline Mineral Exploration started conducting an aerial survey of the property. 

Harare High Court Judge Siyabona Paul Musithu ruled that Pearline Mineral Exploration should stop "mineral mining activities whatsoever", at the ranch.

READ | Oppenheimer case shows taxpayers must prepare for scrutiny about residency

The Oppenheimers argued before court that the farm had 400 employees who run an operation that exports beef to the United Kingdom. They said they hold 8 000 cattle at the ranch.

The farm is also a sanctuary for wildlife as it serves as a corridor for migrating animals. At the farm, there's a school for the local community, mostly for children of employees, with about 150 pupils.

As such, Justice Musithu ruled that mining activities would affect the community as well as wildlife conservation.

"The mineral exploration does not only have the potential to cause harm to the environment, but also to livestock and wildlife. There is clearly a reasonable apprehension of harm if the project proceeds without due regard to the law," he said.

READ | Oppenheimer daughter says release of party funder names may scare off donors

The Oppenheimers acquired the property in 1937 two years before World War II. At the time the area stretched 140 000 hectares.

But it was reduced by more than half when the late president Robert Mugabe began the chaotic land reform that resulted in at least 4 000 white commercial farmers being displaced.

In 2014, to protect his family interests, Nicky Oppenheimer heir to the DeBeers diamond fortune met the late Mugabe.

"I was with Nicky, about a week ago here, he has land here and he comes to his farm once in a while. He said I normally wear three hats, the De Beers Diamonds hat, then the Anglo Gold hat, and the Oppenheimer family hat, but today I am not wearing any of the other two I first mentioned," Mugabe said at a diamond seminar at the time following the meeting.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
7% - 342 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
62% - 2925 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
28% - 1333 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 120 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.