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Who is Yaron Yamin? Meet R. Berland's funder?

One of Rabbi Berland’s (pictured) closest associates and financial backers is the elusive Zimbabwean mining billionaire Yaron Yamin. But just who is Yamin, why is he so closely associated with the Berland family and how did he make his billions? Don’t miss this fascinating story – plus all the updates on one of the biggest stories to hit SA Jewry for many years.
by ANT KATZ | May 14, 2014

SA Jewish Report has interviewed several people over the past three weeks who have told a similar story about Yaron Yamin and how his relationship with Shubu Banim Breslov Rabbi Eliezer Berland (pictured above) began and has evolved.

Breslov - Yaron HOMEYamin (pictured right) housed R. Berland and his followers on a mining compound outside Bulawayo for three months until they were expelled from Zimbabwe shortly before Pesach. Yamin, SAJR was told, was a billionaire mining magnate who has his own Lear Jet and used to send it to Joburg every Thursday to do a Shabbos shop for the Rabbi and his 200-odd Shubu Banim followers. The shopping was done at the “Sandringham Strip.”

The plan was for many of Berland’s followers to join him for Pesach and, the SAJR was reliably informed, the Bulawayo Holiday Inn had been booked out for the occasion. When things went awry, however, the Pesach following came to Joburg and R. Berland went into hiding.

Only now, having been able to interview Yamin directly, can the story be told. Yamin is back in Zimbabwe and has promised to spend more time with Jewish Report on his return next week.

 

The original meeting

Some 20 years ago, Yaron Yamin went bankrupt back in Israel. He wasn’t particularly religious at the time. He was discussing his future with a friend as he had just $20,000 to his name, when the friend suggested Yamin ask the advice of Rabbi Berland.

“Rev Berland opened a map and pointed to Zimbabwe,” one of Berland’s close followers explained to SAJR. Take the first offer you get to buy property!

In a huge leap of faith Yamin took the advice and arrived in Zimbabwe – now with only $14,000 and he spoke no English.

Following R. Berland’s advice, Yaron Yamin attended an auction of mines. The only problem was that the properties were going for hundreds of millions of dollars. The cheapest on offer was a gold mine at $14-mil which was obviously not sold on the day.

Yamin decided that as he was there, and as he had put his faith in R. Berland, he would check out the mine anyway. The owner was a Jewish man in his 90s and the two could communicate in broken Hebrew and English.

And so it was that Yaron Yamin decided to follow Berland’s instructions and went to see the mine.

 

Yaron now had to play open cards

Having seen the gold mine, Yamin now told the old man the story of how he came to be there and admitted that he only had $14,000 to put out up-front. The old man was suitably well off and had no children and so he did not dismiss the idea out of hand. The two men, the young Israeli pioneer and the old gold miner, agreed to place a call to Rabbi Berland for advice.

Berland told the old man that as he had no family, there would be nobody to prat for him once he passed on. Berland told the seller: “I promise I will always pray for you,” Yamin told SAJR. And so it was that the owner agreed to pass the mine on to another Jew in need.

Yaron Yamin, there and then, made himself a promise: “I will give 50 percent of whatever I earn to Rabbi Berland.” And he always has.

He also became a committed follower of the Rabbi.

 

Just look where is Yaron Yamin is now?

Yaron must have worked very hard and smart over the proceeding years as, today, Yamin owns 262 claims on 26 gold mines in Zimbabwe.

On the compound of a mine outside Bulawayo, Yamin is building a new Yeshiva for the Shuvu Banim Breslovs. “We are finishing building a house for the Rabbi and starting on the Yeshiva complex,” he told Jewish Report before flying out over the weekend.

A reliable informant at the Jerusalem Yeshiva tells SAJR that he has seen pictures of the wall that has been erected around the proposed Yeshiva and that it is very large. “It could accommodate thousands,” he said.

Promises from both Jerusalem and from Yamin to send photographs to SAJR Online over the past week have come to naught, but Yamin has promised to meet on his return to Joburg shortly and share pictures.

 

Tracking Yaron Yamin’s career

Yamin remained under the media radar for many years, going about his business of making his billions and growing his mining empire and influence in Zimbabwean business and government circles without making too much noise about it.

Last October, however, the elusive Mr Yamin came out of the shadows and was widely reported on in the Zimbabwean media.

Israeli investors forge partnerships was the headline on a SOUTHERNEYE.co.zw story last October: “A group of Israeli investors have forged a consortium — Yaron Goldstone Mine — with local entrepreneurs to develop two gold mining and processing projects in Bulawayo and the Midlands valued at $5 million,” wrote the website.

 Breslov - Yaron ex Chronicle

On 23 October, the CHRONICLE published a similar story, headlined: “Israeli investors keen on Zim” which included this picture. The caption read: “Israeli investors watch Qubani Ndlovu and John Moyo demonstrating how they sieve gold during a tour of Goldenstone company in Shangani. Among them are from left the company chairman Mr Yaron Yamin and chief executive officer Ms Henrietta Rushwaya (third from left)”

Then Yaron Yamim branched out into diamond mining, bringing other Israeli investors to the party. On 2 December 2013, ROUGH & POLISHED, an international diamond industry news website published “Israeli miner eyes Marange diamonds.”  

Quoting the linked article from the Daily news, among other sources, Rough&Polished said: The Israeli mining investor Yaron Yamin and his local partners are on the verge of tying a deal with the Zimbabwean government to mine diamonds in Marange. The state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) was required by law to control at least half of shareholding in any operation in Marange. Daily News reports that Yamin… currently engaged in gold mining, had lined up two of Jerusalem’s ‘largest’ diamond miners to invest in the venture.”

Rough&Polished continued: “We have proposed a joint venture for mining diamonds in Marange and upon finalisation of our paperwork, we expect to start exploration in the next two weeks,” he was quoted as saying. Yamin and his backers were ready to put in $20 million worth of equipment to support the diamond mining company. This followed a report by a local weekly, The Financial Gazette, which claimed that the quality and quantity of diamonds mined in Zimbabwe’s Marange had been on a “decline” since 2012.

The Financial Gazette quoted ZMDC board chairperson Florence Gowora as saying that miners were now switching to mining conglomerates. “We have to go deeper and we need equipment for that. We also need to expand and explore further. There is a lot of untapped land and we need to establish what we have under the ground," she said.



Writer’s comment: Yaron Yamin is a very busy man always running from meeting to meeting. All credit to him, though, he is polite and always answers his telephone, if only to say “I can’t talk now.”

3 Comments

  1. 3 Adrian 24 Sep
    We found that in business dealings with Yaron Yamin that he was [sorry, Adrian, you cannot say these things in public   -ED]
  2. 2 adrian 27 Sep
    Unfortunately it is true, we have all the documents to proof said.
  3. 1 Abdul Boaz Bangura 01 Mar
    It's worthwhile investing in areas globally accepted leading producers of diamond and gold where weeks of mining can produce a break even cost on capital investment countries like Sierra Leone (land of Gold and Diamonds) where the worlds 3rd. largest diamond has been pick from hand shaker (washer) on superficial surface.

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