Martin Kadzere in Mhondoro-Ngezi
The wave of ground-breaking national economic projects is testimony of Government’s determination to implement programmes that create jobs, facilitate economic growth and enhance living standards, President Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for Karo Resources’ $4,2 billion integrated mining project in Mhondoro-Ngezi on Tuesday, President Mnangagwa said the events demonstrated a “new sense of urgency” on the part of his Government to facilitate investments that unlock jobs and foster rapid economic growth.
He said the previous administration, led by Mr Robert Mugabe, lacked long- term vision.
In March, the Government signed an investment agreement with Karo to establish an integrated mining project, about 10 years after the company started pursuing the deal, which did not materialise due to tortuous bureaucracy by the previous administration.
The project, expected to create 15 000 jobs directly and 75 000 indirectly, will consist of several mines, concentrators, smelters, platinum group and base metals refineries.
Karo will also build a 300-megawatt solar plant to largely power its operations.
Tuesday’s ground-breaking ceremony comes only a month after the President commissioned the reopening of Eureka Gold Mine in Guruve and Shabanie-Masvava Mines in Mashava and Zvishavane, expected to create a combined 9 000 jobs.
Some of the projects whose ground- breaking President Mnangagwa also recently officiated include the $1,2 billion expansion of Hwange Thermal Station, expected to directly create about 3 000 jobs, the modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post and the expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Following his inauguration last year, President Mnangagwa pledged to pursue reforms as he sought to attract foreign direct investments to rebuild the economy.
Since November last year, investment proposals worth nearly $16 billion have been approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority.
The country has also received commitments, some from the world’s leading companies, worth several billions of dollars following the President’s declaration that the country was open for business.
President Mnangagwa said the ground- breaking events reflected there was a window for change, adding the trend would continue post elections; in an apparent conviction that he and his Zanu-PF party would prevail in harmonised elections next Monday.
“I hope that this unfolding ease of doing business is inspirational and a source of encouragement to would-be investors that Zimbabwe is safe and fast growing trade and investment destination,” said President Mnangagwa.
“To this end, we remain seized with the need to modernise and grow our economy as we march towards building the Zimbabwe we all want. It’s now economics, economics, economics and less politics.”
President Mnangagwa said the mining sector was vital to the development of other sectors in the economy, including transport, equipment manufacturing, environmental management, geological services, education, research and tourism.
“I am informed that the project is set to produce significant quantities of Platinum Group Metals per year at optimum production and will see the establishment of other sub-projects such as chrome mining; a colliery, a power plant and the base metals and precious metals refineries,” said President Mnangagwa.
“The establishment of these complementary aspects to the project is in line with Government’s desire to promote value addition and beneficiation of the country’s mineral wealth.”
President Mnangagwa said the integrated mining project was “a landmark and is set to change the mining landscape of our country”.
Earlier, Karo Resources chairman Mr Loucas Pouroulis said the company would start platinum production in two years and would steadily ramp up production to 1,4 million ounces annually by 2023.
It was targeting commissioning the first mine in 2020.
“Karo is here to build mines and bring renewed industrialisation to Zimbabwe, but most importantly to build sustainable growth,” said Mr Pouroulis.
Mr Pouroulis said Karo Resources’ project would be one of the largest investments ever made in the history of Zimbabwe, adding that the investment would open the gateway for further diversified investment and development of the Zimbabwean economy.